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 4.0. 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 Cam Newton [Auburn]. I wouldn't take Newton or Gabbert this high, but all signs point to the Panthers selecting Newton -- or they're the best poker players in the NFL. He will either turn this franchise around or doom it to several more years in football hell.
02. Denver Broncos: DL 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.
03. Buffalo Bills: 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.
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: OLB Von Miller [Texas A&M]. He's a pass-rushing monster who is perfect for Arizona's 3-4 defense and versatile enough to stay on the field and do almost anything asked of him. In addition to filling a need, Miller is a good value pick at 5 and probably one of the safer choices here.
06. Cleveland Browns: WR Julio Jones [Alabama]. Jones has great size and improved his hands this past season. He’s got the makings of a complete receiver and the Browns desperately need offensive playmakers for young QB Colt McCoy. Jones' size would work perfectly in the west coast offense being installed in Cleveland.
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.
08. Tennessee Titans: 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 and a very good value at 8.
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: DE/OLB Robert Quinn [North Carolina]. The suspension causes Quinn to fall further than he ordinarily would, but he's a good fit for the Redskins, who have a pressing need for another edge rusher on their 31st-ranked defense. The Redskins could play Quinn at outside linebacker and use him and Brian Orakpo to rebuild their defense. GM Bruce Allen loves to trade out and the Redskins have a ton of needs so a trade down to replace missing picks in rounds 3 and 4 is a definite possibility.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.
12. Minnesota Vikings: DE Da’Quan Bowers [Clemson]. Very serious concerns about Bowers' knee causes an otherwise elite talent to fall this far and the Vikings will take advantage of it. They are old at defensive end and didn't get the pass rush they needed last year. A healthy Bowers could fix that quickly.
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: DE Cameron Jordan. [California]. 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 a Dolphins defense that needs more strength and power.
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! Click ‘continue reading’ below
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: DE Cameron Heyward [Ohio State]. A hard-working, high character big man who isn't great at anything, but does just about everything pretty well. Average speed, but good power make him a solid pick for a defense that could get bigger.
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. A trade down here is a major possibility.
27. Atlanta Falcons: CB Jimmy Smith [Colorado]. He's a great athlete and a potential All Pro in the NFL, but he's got major character issues that cause him to fall. However, the Falcons are strong enough all over their roster that they can afford to take a chance on Smith because it might pay off in a big, big way.
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: OT/G Dan Watkins [Baylor]. An offense with few weaknesses needs a bit of youth and talent on the offensive line and the versatile Watkins fills a need and is a nice value at the end of the first round.