NFL Draft fever is upon us at DC Pro Sports Report, home of the biggest, best and most-updated NFL Mock Draft Database in the world. So we present for you our 2011 NFL Mock Draft 3.0. You can discuss this mock draft and all the others, as well as anything else about the draft, in our NFL Draft forum! You can discuss the Redskins pick in our Redskins forum
.01. Carolina Panthers: QB Blaine Gabbert [Missouri]. I wouldn't take Gabbert this high because I don't consider him an elite quarterback talent, but the signs are becoming difficult to ignore and teams routinely reach for passers. I wish Gabbert was a better downfield passer, but he's very accurate within 15 yards, has a good arm and has a decent chance of becoming a good-but-not-great NFL QB. Alternative: Marcell Dareus.
02. Denver Broncos: DT Nick Fairley [Auburn]. Fairley is the best defensive lineman in a good class of defensive linemen and because he’s capable of playing in a number of schemes he’s also a very safe pick. He's not the hardest worker, but he's a super-elite talent who will make big plays at important moments in games. Alternative: Marcell Dareus.
03. Buffalo Bills: DT Marcell Dareus [Alabama]. He’s almost 320 pounds, but unusually quick for his size and can play either end or tackle depending on the system. Can be an elite pass-rusher in the NFL who can also stuff the run. Not as spectacular as Fairley, but probably steadier. Alternative: Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton.
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 owner Mike Brown is 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. Alternative: Cam Newton.
05. Arizona Cardinals: QB Cam Newton [Auburn]. The Cardinals desperately need a quarterback, as well as a commanding personality for the team to build and market around. Newton is that guy. The more teams see of Newton the more they will admire his physical prowess and will to win. I think Newton has a high-bust potential, but the Cardinals are a good team with no future at QB right now. Newton is worth the risk. Alternative: Da'Quan Bowers, Von Miller.
06. Cleveland Browns: OLB Von Miller [Texas A&M]. They would have taken A.J. Green if he was still on the board, but he’s not so a pass-rushing monster who is versatile enough to stay on the field and do almost anything asked of him fits the bill. In addition to filling a need, Miller is a good value pick at 6 and probably one of the safer choices here. Alternative: Patrick Peterson, Da'Quan Bowers.
07. San Francisco 49ers: CB Patrick Peterson [LSU]. The Niners need a QB and a CB most of all, but since the top passers are gone they will luck into the steal of the draft. In my estimation, Peterson is the best player coming out this year and to get him at 7 is fantastic. He should be a shut-down CB by his second year. Alternative: Trade for Kevin Kolb.
08. Tennessee Titans: DE Da’Quan Bowers [Clemson]. They need help in lots of places, including the pass rush, so if Bowers is still on the board, they’ll take him and be very happy that questions about Bowers’ health [knee] caused him to drop this far. Alternatives: Cam Newton, Robert Quinn.
09. Dallas Cowboys: CB Prince Amukamara [Nebraska]. He’s got good speed and nice size and I love his work ethic. He should be a starter immediately and could be a Pro Bowler by year two. He’s not the super-elite player Patrick Peterson is, but he’s easily the second best corner in the drat and a solid pick here.They need help along both offensive and defensive lines, but they won’t draft an offensive lineman this high. If they go O-line it will be preceded by a trade down in the first round. If they stay here, Amukamara is the smart pick. Alternative: Tyron Smith, J.J. Watt, Robert Quinn, trade down.
10. Washington Redskins: WR Julio Jones [Alabama]. I’ve been picking Julio Jones here since mock 1.0 and while everyone else was projecting a QB here I didn’t see it. I notice Mel Kiper has come around and given up his Cam Newton projection in favor of Jones, the player I’ve favored. 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. Alternative: Robert Quinn, J.J. Watt, trade down for Jake Locker.
11. Houston Texans: DE J.J. Watt [Wisconsin]. The Texans are unwisely moving to a 3-4 defense and Watt has the size to play end in that defense. I think Robert Quinn is the better pick here, but he wouldn’t fit a 3-4 defense well. Alternative: Robert Quinn.
12. Minnesota Vikings: DE Robert Quinn [North Carolina]. The suspension causes Quinn to fall, but he’s a huge talent and the Vikings are old at that position. What’s more, they could lose two important defensive ends to free agency this offseason, if there ever is an offseason. Quinn is a need and represents a great value pick at 12. Alternative: Trade up for Newton, Gabbert, trade down for Jake Locker.
13. Detroit Lions: OT Tyron Smith [USC]. What the Lions really need is a cornerback, but they’re not taking one in the first round unless they trade up or trade down. If they stick at 13 Tyron Smith provides both value and need. The Lions have to do a better job protecting Matt Stafford or he’ll be Exhibit A in their latest failed rebuilding project.
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: TB Mark Ingram [Alabama]. Their biggest need is running back and so, although I don’t consider Ingram a great value pick here, he makes the most sense. He’s clearly the best back in the Draft and the Dolphins have a gaping hole at that position. Problem solved.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: OLB Akeem Ayers [UCLA]. The Jag pass rush disappeared late last season and their makeover of the line simply isn’t finished yet. Ayers is a tackling machine who can also rush the passer. The Jags have solidified the interior of their defensive line, but are very weak on the edge. Ayers would help fix that quickly. If the Jags are ever going to get some pressure on Peyton Manning without blitzing, they’ll need someone like Ayers to help get it done.
CHECK OUT SELECTIONS 17-32 after the jump!
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17. New England Patriots: OLB Ryan Kerrigan [Purdue]. The Pats’ greatest need on defense is outside linebacker and Kerrigan is the best one left on the board. They need his ability to play forward, attacking the quarterback and running backs behind the line of scrimmage. He won’t be a great cover linebacker, but he should help the Pats defense play more aggressive and make more big plays.
18. San Diego Chargers: DE Justin Houston [Georgia]. 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, Houston provides them with the outside edge pressure they would like to add.
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 Adrian Clayborn [Iowa]. Having drafted high to fix the interior of the D-line last year, the Bucs can improve their problems on the edge with Clayborn, a hard working who can rush the passer, as well as stand up against the run.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: DT Corey Liuget [Illinois]. The Chiefs have a ton of needs on defense and could go in almost any direction, but the interior of that defense still looks weak and Liuget is the best solution left on the board to fix that problem. He’s tough, with a great motor and can penetrate or hold his ground. A good value pick here, too.
22. Indianapolis Colts: OT Anthony Castonzo [Boston College]. The Colts don’t normally use high draft picks on offensive linemen, but they’ll make an exception this time because their line is a shambles and protecting the franchise, Peyton Manning, is job 1. Castonzo is an excellent pass-blocker, which fits nicely with the Indy offense.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: OT Gabe Carimi [Wisconsin]. 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. They’d probably take Castonozo if he’s available, but he’s off the board in this draft, so Carimi is the obvious choice. He’s a better run-blocker, but he’ll work hard to improve his pass-blocking and is versatile enough to play either tackle position and possibly even guard.
24. New Orleans Saints: DT Muhammad Wilkerson [Temple]. 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. I had the Saints taking a different DT in my 1.0 mock draft, but Wilkerson is moving up in consideration because of his performance recently. Teaming him with Sedrick Ellis on the interior of that DL should improve the rush defense almost immediately and Wilkerson should get the occasional interior push against the passing game.
25. Seattle Seahawks: QB Jake Locker [Washington]. The Seahawks are very unsettle at quarterback and Locker would be a popular choice as the local boy. What’s more, he proved he’s a terrific athlete at the NFL Combine. He’s not ready to start now, but give him two years and he could be very good.
26. Baltimore Ravens: WR Leonard Hankerson [Miami]. The Ravens need two things pretty urgently — a wideout that can spread the field and a good cornerback. I don’t see the CB value here so Hankerson is a solid pick. He’s got good hands, excellent size and more than enough speed to get deep on NFL cornerbacks. The Ravens will never get past the Steelers until they become more explosive on offense. Hankerson should help.
27. Atlanta Falcons: DE Cameron Jordan [California]. The Falcons are strong in a lot of places and not really weak anywhere so they have a lot of flexibility with this pick. Jordan could be a power DE in a 4-3 or a standard DE in a 3-4 and is very stout against the run at any position. He’s got decent pass-rush skills and should bolster an already strong Falcons defense.
28. New England Patriots: OT/G Dan Watkins [Baylor]. They got their outside linebacker earlier in the first round and guard is also a major area of need, particularly of Logan Mankins leaves. Watkins is versatile enough to play several positions on the line and so definitely fills a need. Don’t be surprised if the Pats trade down here.
29. Chicago Bears: OT Nate Solder [Colorado]. No longer skinny, Solder is a powerful 6′8″ who should develop into a real road-grader in the running game. Assuming the Bears have learned their lessons about protecting QB Jay Cutler with better linemen while also relying more on the run, Solder is the ideal pick if he’s still available.
30. New York Jets: DT Phil Taylor [Baylor]. With Kris Jenkins gone the Jets have a huge problem [literally] in the middle of their 3-man defensive front. At 350 pounds, but surprisingly quick, Taylor fits the bill. The Jets would also like to shore up their pass-rushing issues, but Taylor fills a need and is a decent value pick here, while all the elite pass-rushers are off the board.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Marcus Cannon [TCU]. It’s a tribute to the Steelers that they won the AFC with one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. They have multiple positions to fill on the offensive line and Cannon can probably play either guard or right tackle. I see Cannon as an ideal pick in the first half of the second round, but the Steelers have a real need and unless they trade down, Cannon is the player left on the board who best fits their needs.
32. Green Bay Packers: WR Jonathan Baldwin [Pittsburgh]. The Packers are pretty strong almost everywhere, but they have age and free agency issues at wideout. Baldwin is a huge target — 6′5″ — with good hands and better-than-average speed. He breaks tackles in the secondary and is a monster in the red zone. One of the best offenses in the NFL would just get better.