NFL Draft fever is upon us so we here at DC Pro Sports Report, home of the biggest, best and most-updated NFL Mock Draft Database in the world, present for you our 2011 NFL Mock Draft 1.0. You can discuss this mock draft and all the others, as well as anything else about the draft, in our NFL Draft forum!
01. Carolina Panthers: DT Nick Fairley [Auburn]. With a new defensive-minded head coach taking over in Carolina, I see the Panthers going for the closest thing this draft has to a can't-miss defensive player. Andrew Luck would have been their pick here, but since he's not available, Fairley is the logical choice.
02. Denver Broncos: DE Da'Quan Bowers [Clemson]. The Broncos defense is a mess and new Head Coach Jon Fox will want to fix that as soon as possible. The team had no pass rush with LB Elvis Dumervil out last season and Bowers is the best pass-rusher in the draft.
03. Buffalo Bills: CB Patrick Peterson [LSU]. This team was an absolute disaster on defense in 2010 and could go in any direction to fix it. QB could be a need, but without a surefire hit at that position in this draft, I think they stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick for another year and draft Peterson, arguably the best player in the nation and a likely future shutdown corner.
04. Cincinnati Bengals: WR A.J. Green [Georgia]. The defense fell apart in 2010, but the receivers are too old, with both Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens likely on their way out. The Bengals need to find a replacement for Carson Palmer, but there is no QB in this draft worthy of a top 4 pick so they go with the best offensive player on the board, A.J. Green. He'll be a stud playmaker for them and help make the transition to a younger receiving corps.
05. Arizona Cardinals: CB Prince Amukamara [Nebraska]. The Cardinals desperately need a QB, but drafting one one here almost ensures another tough season and puts Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt's job in jeopardy. I think the Cardinals will grab a QB in free agency [Donovan McNabb?] It's unusual for two cornerbacks to go in the top 5 of the draft, but the Cardinals have a need in the secondary and Amukamara is versatile enough to play cornerback and free safety.
06. Cleveland Browns: DE Robert Quinn [North Carolina]. The Browns would take A.J. Green if he's on the board at 6, but I don't think he will be. They could trade down, get more picks and then draft Julio Jones a bit later, but if they stay here they'll fill another need, for a pass-rusher. Quinn missed all of last season with off the field issues, but he's a great athlete who projects as an elite pass-rusher at the next level.
07. San Francisco 49ers: DL Marcell Dareus [Alabama]. The Niners need a QB badly, but I think new Head Coach Jim Harbaugh will see the wisdom of not drafting Blaine Gabbert this high and instead go for a player who fits their new 3-4 defense like a glove. The Niners would do well to pursue Donovan McNabb or Kevin Kolb rather than risking a top 7 pick on a college QB who is at least as likely to fail as to succeed.
08. Tennessee Titans: QB Blaine Gabbert [Missouri]. With Vince Young gone this team needs a new QB and despite Jeff Fisher's wishes, I think they'll draft one this high. It might not be good for Fisher in the last year of his contract, but Fisher's well-being is not uppermost in the mind of team owner Bud Adams.
09. Dallas Cowboys: OT Tyron Smith [USC]. They'll take Amukamara if he's still on the board, but since I don't think he will be, the Cowboys will have to address another need. The offensive line is a complete mess and Smith would go some way towards fixing that.
10. Washington Redskins: WR Julio Jones [Alabama]. Lots of people are projecting a quarterback here and that is possible, but since Mike Shanahan shows every sign of wanting to win as soon as possible [and appears to actually think that is possible with the current roster], I think the Skins will try to find more playmakers for the offense. Jones has great size and improved his hands this past season. He's got the makings of a complete receiver and since the best player on the offense is 31-year-old Santana Moss, this is a position of need.11. Houston Texans: OLB Von Miller [Texas A&M]. The worst defense in the league needs lots of help and Von Miller, a top pass-rusher, should be able to fit into the new 3-4 defense Wade Phillips is bringing to Houston.
13. Detroit Lions: OLB Akeem Ayers [UCLA]. A good value pick at 13, Ayers is a tackling machine who can also rush the passer. The Lions badly need help at cornerback, but the value isn't there with Peterson and Amukamara off the board. If they can't trade down, they'll upgrade their linebackers, which do need help.
14. St. Louis Rams: OLB Aldon Smith [Missouri]. They'll grab Julio Jones if he's on the board, but he is not in this draft so they have to go in another direction. Smith is a freakish athlete with a huge upside and would thrive in Steve Spagnuolo's aggressive defense.
15. Miami Dolphins: QB Jake Locker [Washington]. The Dolphins need help at running back so they could take Mark Ingram here, but I think that's too high to take almost any running back, so they'll address a glaring need at QB. Chad Henne looked lost in 2010 and Chad Pennington is clearly well past his sell-by date. Locker struggled in 2010, but he's a good athlete and has strong leadership qualities. Dan Marino struggled in his senior season in college and we know how that worked out.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Ryan Kerrigan [Purdue]. They might take Locker here if he's available or they might avoid the QB position until later in the draft. The Jag pass rush disappeared late last season and their makeover of the line simply isn't finished yet. Kerrigan is a strong edge rusher who led the nation in tackles for loss last season. If the Jags are ever going to get some pressure on Peyton Manning without blitzing, they'll need someone like Kerrigan to help get it done.
CHECK OUT SELECTIONS 17-32 after the jump!
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17. New England Patriots: DL J.J. Watt [Wisconsin]. The Patriots DL needs a lot of help even with the expected return of Ty Warren in 2011. Don't be shocked if the Pats trade down, since that's what Bill Belichick likes to do, but if they stick Watt makes a lot of sense here. He's decent value and has the size to play well in the the Pats' 3-4 defense.
18. San Diego Chargers: DE Adrian Clayborn [Iowa]. A wide receiver to replace the possible departure of Vincent Jackson wouldn't be a bad idea, but I don't see one at 18 worth the pick. If the Chargers stick, Clayborn is the sort of powerful edge rusher who would thrive in their already-solid defense. Clayborn has the potential to be a good pass-rusher, as well as a reliable run defender.
19. New York Giants: OG/C Mike Pouncey [Florida]. The offensive line is still a strength of this offense when healthy, but it is getting a bit long in tooth and health is rarer these days. Pouncey's brother is a Pro Bowler in his rookie season for the Steelers and while Mike isn't as good as his elder sibling, he's still clearly the best interior lineman in this draft. His versatility would be a boost to the Giants O-line for years.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DE Cameron Heyward [Ohio State]. The Bucs addressed the interior of their D-line in last year's draft and they'll try to shore up the edge this year. Heyward didn't have a great season, but his fantastic performance in the Sugar Bowl will push him this high in the draft. When motivated Heyward can really get after the QB, which is precisely what Tampa's anemic pass rush needs.21. Kansas City Chiefs: DL Christian Ballard [Iowa]. He's not the most famous D-lineman from Iowa, but he might be the best. He can play DT in a 4-3 or DE in a 3-4 and he plays the run so well because he's got a great motor, exactly what you want in a young defensive lineman. Effort will not be a problem.
22. Indianapolis Colts: OT Nate Solder [Colorado]. A huge man with good quickness who will become Indy's long-term answer at either tackle position, though I think he'll be best on the left side. It won't take long for him to become Peyton Manning's best friend on that offense.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: OT Anthony Castonzo [Boston College]. The Eagles gave up 52 sacks this year and while some of that is due to Michael Vick holding on to the ball too long, most of it is because the line isn't very good at pass-blocking. He needs to get a bit stronger, but that shouldn't be a problem for someone with his worth ethic.
24. New Orleans Saints: DT Stephen Paea [Oregon State]. The Saints defense was destroyed in the playoffs by a mediocre Seattle offense and the rush defense, in particular, looked in need of an upgrade. Paea isn't a dominating lineman, but he's strong and would be hard to move. Teaming him with Sedrick Ellis on the interior of that DL should improve the rush defense almost immediately.
25. Seattle Seahawks: CB Brandon Harris [Miami]. This is a decent value pick that also fills a need for a team with the 27th-ranked pass defense in the NFL. Harris has decent size, is a willing tackler against the run and, as the son of a football coach he's willing to learn and work hard.
26. Baltimore Ravens: OLB Justin Houston [Georgia]. The Ravens will take Harris if he's on the board because they have major unaddressed needs in the secondary. They could also use a speedy wideout because the offense looked very slow in the playoffs against the Steelers. However, Houston is a good value here and he should fit in nicely in Baltimore's hybrid scheme defense.
27. Atlanta Falcons: OT Gabe Carimi [Wisconsin]. The Falcons are solid almost everywhere, but they could use an upgrade at tackle. Carimi is probably a bit stereotyped as a prototypical right tackle, but I think he can play on the left side, too. He's an absolute beat as a run-blocker, which is something that fits Atlanta's downhill run game perfectly. One bad playoff loss isn't a good reason to abandon the things that got Atlanta to 13 wins and Carimi would make those strengths even stronger.
28. New England Patriots: RB Mark Ingram [Alabama]. A powerful runner who seems particularly explosive after contact, Ingram will be a battering ram for an offense that needs to do something other than throw short passes. Having shored up their defensive line with the 17th pick in this draft, the Patriots can make their offense the most well-rounded in the NFL with a downhill runner like Ingram.
29. Green Bay Packers: DL Corey Liuget [Illinois]. The Packers have very few weaknesses, but rush defense was definitely not a strength this season. Liuget is a great value this late in the first round and should be able to really stop running backs from the DE position in Green Bay's 3-4 defense.
30. New York Jets: DL Muhammad Wilkerson [Temple]. A college sack-master at DT, Wilkerson would be a nice fit for the Jets at DE in their 3-4 defensive scheme. He would likely go much higher in the first round next year, but he's coming out now so this could be a good value pick, too.31. Chicago Bears: OT Derek Sherrod [Mississippi State]. The Bears could also target a wideout here, but I don't think they'll get complacent about their woeful offensive line. Sherrod is a very talented underclassman who can play either tackle position and would start from day one for this team.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Marcus Cannon [TCU]. It's a tribute to the Steelers that they have done so well this season with one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. He can probably play either guard or tackle and since both are positions of need for the Steelers, he's an ideal selection for them at the bottom of the round.