NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at the podium on stage during the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 22, 2010 in New York City. He will be back at the draft podium again in a few days. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft

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SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 32nd Pick, Green Bay Selects ...

Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State.

The defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers find themselves with a choice between several defensive players who seem to fit their 3-4 system at this point in the draft. Among them are Heyward, Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson, Arizona's Brooks Reed, Georgia's Justin Houston and UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers.

Many of the analysts I trust most either have Heyward off the board before Green Bay selects, or going to the Packers with this selection. One of those who also makes this pick for Green Bay is Draft Countdown's Scott Wright, who says:

Green Bay has some questions marks at defensive end, where Cullen Jenkins is a free agent, Johnny Jolly is facing prison time and Justin Harrell just can’t seem to stay healthy. Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward, who is the son of former Saint running back Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, would probably be gone by this point in most years but the strength of  this defensive line class could push him down the board a bit. A prototypical five-technique, Heyward would be an outstanding fit in Green Bay and provide them with a lot of bang for their buck.


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 31st Pick, Steelers Select ...

Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor.

I was caught in-between a couple of choices here -- Watkins or Texas CB/S Aaron Williams. I fell back on my belief that when in doubt, strengthen the trenches. Among the handful of draft analysts I trust most there seemed to be a mixed bag of opinion on what the Pittsburgh Steelers would do here, go offensive line or go with a player to try and upgrade their secondary.

According to most analysts Williams is clearly No. 5 in a draft with four elite cornerback prospects. He carries a first-round grade, but no one seems sure if he is a cornerback or a safety, and going with him seems risky to me.

Watkins seems like a good fit for a team that needs to continue revamping its offensive line after grabbing center Maurkice Pouncey a year ago. He is the best offensive lineman on the board and could wind up starting for a long time. Watkins will be 27 by the time the 2011 NFL season starts, but that really should not scare NFL teams in need of upgrades along the line.


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 30th Pick, Jets Select ...

Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor.

The 3-4 defense simply does not function properly without a dominating nose tackle, and with two-time All-Pro Kris Jenkins oft-injured and apparently uninterested in return to the New York Jets Rex Ryan’s defense doesn’t have one.

That makes the 6-foot-3, 334-pound Taylor — the top nose tackle prospect on the board — a natural choice for the Jets in this spot.

Draft Countdown summarized Taylor this way:

Showed lots of potential early in career then struggled as a junior before really coming on as a senior and improving draft stock — Possesses intriguing size and profiles as a prototypical nose tackle in a even (4-3) or odd (3-4) front.

Some might consider Taylor a reach at this point in the draft. If the Jets do, their other option would appear to be trying to add an impact player at defensive end or outside linebacker. Names worthy of consideration might be Akeem Ayers of UCLA, Muhammad Wilkerson of Temple, Brooks Reed of Arizona and Justin Houston of Georgia.


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 29th Pick, Chicago Selects ...

Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State.

In truth, this pick finds the Chicago Bears in no-man's land. It seems from everything I can find that the players they might really want -- offensive tackles Gabe Carimi and Nate Solder and maybe defensive tackle Corey Liuget of Illinois -- are all gone. What you read over and over is that if the draft unfolds this way the Bears will look to trade down and grab players they like with second- or third-round values.

No trading in our mock, though, so Sherrod is the pick. It isn't easy to find athletic, quality left tackles in the NFL and even though he would be the sixth to come off the board in the first round draft analysts see Sherrod as a player who could be one.

Draft Countdown's Scott Wright summarized Sherrod this way:

The type who does everything well but nothing great --- Possesses both the physical tools and intangibles that you look for in a left tackle prospect --- Not particularly flashy but very consistent and arguably the best all - around blocker in this class.


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 28th Pick, New England Selects ...

Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama.

For years it seems like the New England Patriots have made due at running back with a collection of veterans near the end of their careers, limited players no one else really wanted and over-achievers only Bill Belicheck and his staff seemed able to get mileage out of.

Well, the Patriots put an end to that here by grabbing the top-rated running back in the draft. Ingram, the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, has drawn some comparisons to all-time rushing leader Emmitt Smith. He isn't exceedingly fast, large or flashy.

Draft Countdown makes the same pick for the Patriots at No. 28, and says the following about Ingram:

Ingram is clearly the top runner available in this draft and even though he doesn’t necessarily posses any special physical tools he’s a natural runner with good vision, instincts and nimble feet who bears an uncanny resemblance to Emmitt Smith. There just aren’t many teams in desperate need of a running back this year so Ingram could end up slipping to the end of round one, or perhaps even further.

My personal bias is that I do not like taking running backs in Round 1. Again and again teams have proven that you can find quality backs in later rounds, and that if you can block you can run the football. With that in mind, with tandem backfields the rage and with teams running less and passing more, the value of a running back in the first round is not that great.

Still, the Patriots have two picks in Round 1, two in Round 2 -- including the first pick of the second round -- and two more in Round 3. With all those picks in hand this is a pick New England can afford to make.

Draft Preview: Mark Ingram (via foxsports)


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 27th Pick, Atlanta Selects ...

Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa.

The majority of the highly-regarded draft experts I tend to find credible think the Atlanta Falcons will go defensive end with this pick, and almost every time Iowa's Clayborn is available in those mock drafts he is the selection. That makes sense since he seems like the truest 4-3 defensive end with a first-round grade left at this point, and that is good enough for me.

Also, in perusing SB Nation's Falcons' website, The Falcoholic, being able to land Clayborn here seems like a dream scenario Atlanta fans simply don't believe has a chance of coming true. In the land of the SB Nation New York Mock Draft, though, that dream scenario has turned into reality for Atlanta.

Draft Countdown says "his blend of size, speed and power plus a non-stop motor makes Clayborn one of the better all-around defensive ends in this class."

The clip below shows a good battle between Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi, one of the most highly-regarded offensive linemen in this draft, and Clayborn. At times, both players acquitted themselves well.

Gabe Carimi vs. Adrian Clayborn (via AloAloysius)


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 26th Pick, Baltimore Selects ...

Brandon Harris, CB, Miami.

The Baltimore Ravens are in need of a cornberback with Dominque Foxworth coming off a knee injury and three corners headed to free agency. Harris is the last of the cornerbacks with first-round grades to still be on the board, which makes Harris a natural target for the Ravens here. The fact that he is from MIami, and Baltimore has had success with Miami guys named Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, doesn't hurt.

The Ravens are still good defensively, but not the dominant team they were when Lewis was in his prime. An infusion of youth in the secondary can't hurt. Besides, one of my beliefs is that you need top-notch cover corners to succeed in the modern NFL, and you generally only get those guys in the first two rounds.

Here is part of Draft Countdown's summary of Harris:

A bit smaller than you'd ideally prefer but possesses just about everything else that you look for --- Extremely talented player with pure cover skills  who profiles as a starter at the next level.

If the Ravens go elsewhere a name to watch might be Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson, who could fit at a defensive end spot in their 3-4.


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 25th Pick, Seattle Selects ...

Andy Dalton, QB, TCU.

One of my cardinal draft rules is that if you think you need a quarterback and there is one on the board that you like, you take the quarterback. When you don't have one, you can't win big in the NFL. Matt Hasselbeck is near the end of his tenure in Seattle, if he has not reached it already. Charlie Whitehurst is not the long-term answer.

There has been a ton of speculation that the Seahawks would like Jake Locker, the local guy from Washington. In our mock, though, Locker is gone to the Redskins at No. 10 and Ryan Mallett is gone to Miami at No. 15. If Seattle thinks it needs a quarterback only Dalton and Christian Ponder of Florida State remain. They had better move here to grab their guy. In this mock, that is precisely what the Seahawks do.

Dalton draws mixed reaction from scouts. Draft Countdown's Scott Wright is not a fan, calling him "A game manager who is much better college player than pro prospect." sees Dalton as a fourth- to fifth-round pick who compares to New York Jets third-stringer Kellen Clemens.

Not a ringing endorsement for a guy who could wind up going in the first round.


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 24th Pick, New Orleans Selects ...

Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois.

The best value on the board currently for the New Orleans Saints. New Orleans tried to trade for Barry Cofield of the New York Giants a year ago, unsuccessfully. They signed free agent defensive tackle Shaun Rogers already, but he is only a short-term help and tackle still could use an upgrade.

Draft Countdown says Liuget  "Profiles as a one-gapping three-technique in even front --- A talented, up-and-coming player who is just realizing what it takes to maximize  immense potential and best football is still to come.

The Saints could do a number of other things here. Most analysts see New Orleans biggest need as defensive end, and Adrian Clayborn of Iowa is still available here. Muhammad Wilkerson of Temple is another intriguing player for this slot, a 6-foot-4, 315-pounder who could play defensive tackle or possibly even at an end spot.

So, the Saints have some options here. Liuget, though, seems like the safest one.


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 23rd Pick, Philadelphia Selects ...

Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado.

If the Philadelphia Eagles sit at No. 23 in the real 2011 NFL Draft, and things work out this way, the Eagles won't hesitate to pull the trigger on Smith. A player many consider to be a top 10-15 talent in the 2011 NFL Draft class some teams are shying away from Smith due to character concerns. The cornerback-starved Eagles, a team that took a chance on Michael Vick, won't be one of them.

Scott Wright of Draft Countdown is one of many analysts who has Smith going to the Eagles at this spot. He explains:

When it comes to size and speed, few corners can match Colorado’s Jimmy Smith, who checks in at 6-2¼ and 211 pounds while running in the mid-4.4’s. Unfortunately Smith doesn’t always play up to those impressive measurables and there are also some concerns about his intangibles. A polarizing prospect who there is a wide range of opinions on, some feel Smith is a Top 15 overall talent while others have stamped mid-round grades on him. When all is said and done Smith’s tantalizing triangle numbers  will likely lead to some team pulling the trigger in round one, but he may be a boom or bust type of prospect.

Jimmy Smith vs. Oklahoma (via AloAloysius)


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 22nd Pick, Colts Select ...

Nate Solder, OT, Colorado.

Best guess here is that Indianapolis would love to see Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi or Boston College's Anthony Castonzo fall to this spot. They might even be tempted by Florida OG/C Mike Pouncey here. The Colts simply have to upgrade their offensive line.

They were near the bottom of the league running the ball in 2010, as they have been the past couple of seasons. They just can't move anybody off the ball. Besides which, Peyton Manning is the franchise and they need to keep the immobile Manning in one piece to have any chance at a Super Bowl. A solid offensive line is a must.

In making this same selection for the Colts, Draft Countdown's Scott Wright had this to say:

Colorado’s Nate Solder is a former tight end and as a result he brings a rare blend of athleticism and nimble feet to the offensive tackle position. Solder is still developing, physically and mentally, and is far from a finished product but he has as much upside as any blocker in this class.

SB Nation's Mocking The Draft concurred, saying "Solder has more upside than any early round lineman in this year's draft."

Draft Preview: Nate Solder (via foxsports)


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 21st Pick, Kansas City Selects ...

Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin.

There is some debate about whether or not Carimi can play left tackle at the NFL level. Scouts don't see him as quite the same caliber of athlete as USC's Tyron Smith or even Boston College's Anthony Castonzo. With the Chiefs, though, that won't be an issue.

Carimi is a mauling run blocker who could anchor the right side of Kansas City's line for years to come. Read the scouting report on Carimi from SB Nation's Mocking The Draft.

The Chiefs would also love to come out of the draft with a home-run hitting wide receiver and a nose tackle. There isn't value at either position at this point in the draft, however. Baylor's Phil Taylor is likely the best nose tackle in the draft, but most see him as a reach at No. 21. There is no wide receiver deserving of a first-round pick at this point in the draft.

Wes Bunting of the National Football Post summarized Carimi this way:

Isn't a guy who I would trust on the left side at this stage in the NFL, but he can win for you in the run game and looks more like a very solid right tackle prospect.


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 20th Pick, Buccaneers Select ...

Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished 30th in the league with just 26 quarterback sacks in 2010. Most draft analysts believe the Buccaneers will address that need in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft by grabbing a pass-rusher. Several of the top defensive ends are already off the board in our mock draft, but a few do remain. Most notable are Kerrigan and Adrian Clayborn of Iowa, players who both seem like fits on the edge in Tampa Bay's 4-3.

Kerrigan seems to rate slightly higher, and seems to be the choice here for Tampa Bay by many of the highly-respected draft analysts. I will go with that, giving the Bucs a solid player on the edge of their defense. Draft Countdown had this to say about Kerrigan:

Might never be an "elite" sack artist along the lines of Julius Peppers but will be a very good player for a long time -- Profiles as a Chris Long-type of presence at the next level.


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 19th Pick, Giants Select ...

Mike Pouncey, OG/C, Florida.

This is really the ideal draft scenario for the New York Giants. Several players likely to be on their draft board — defensive tackles Corey Liuget (Illinois) and Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple), offensive tackle Gabe Carimi and linebacker Akeem Ayers are all still available.

The pick, though, is Pouncey. He is good value at this point in the draft — SB Nation’s Mocking The Draft ranks him 22nd overall among prospects.

Pouncey also fills the positions where the Giants have the biggest holes — guard and center. With center Shaun O’Hara and guard Rich Seubert both question marks due to age and injury, fortifying the interior of the offensive line is critical for the Giants.

Here is part of what MTD says about Pouncey in its scouting report:

Pouncey is a good athlete overall and with his foot quickness, balance, and good understanding of the guard/center position will make an immediate contribution to whomever drafts him. … Pouncey will be an outstanding professional.

Giants General Manager Jerry Reese loves his defensive linemen, and I can also see him passing on Pouncey and grabbing either Wilkerson or Liuget with this selection. As much as linebacker is a need, Ayers is considered a reach here and Reese is not usually prone to reaching for positional need.


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 18th Pick, San Diego Selects ...

Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal.

The San Diego Chargers' biggest need heading into the 2011 NFL Draft is to add a quality defensive end to their 3-4 defense. Fortunately for the Chargers, even with J.J. Watt having just gone to the New England Patriots at 17 there are quite a few to choose from.

In addition to Jordan, Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue, Adrian Clayborn of Iowa, Cameron Heyward of Ohio State and Muhammad Wilkerson of Temple are all still on the board. Jordan and Wilkerson are likely the two who fit what is called the "five technique" defensive end in a 3-4 the best, and for me the choice here will be Jordan.

Draft Countdown summarized Jordan this way:

Underrated prospect who, like his former teammate Tyson Alualu, could end up being selected much earlier than most realize --- Isn't flashy and may never be a dynamic sack artist in the pros but should be a solid starter for a very long time.

Cameron Jordan All American DL (via calbearsgobig)


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 17th Pick, New England Selects ...

J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin.

The biggest difference between the New England Patriots of their Super Bowl-winning years and the current version of the very-good-but-not-great Patriots has been defense. The current New England defense just doesn’t make enough plays, and there are soft spots in the front seven.

The Patriots take steps to address that here by grabbing Watt, a high-motor, prototypical “five technique” 3-4 defensive end. SB Nation’s Mocking The Draft says Watt “Has the look of a classic 3-4 defensive end.” He is the 13th-ranked prospect on MTD’s Big Board.

This was a difficult choice. Between Watt and Cal’s Cameron Jordan you are pretty much splitting hairs, it is a simple matter of preference. The Patriots could also choose to address issues in their aging offensive line by grabbing Florida OG/C Mike Pouncey here, and plugging him in at either guard or center.

Of course, knowing the Patriots who we think they might draft here probably doesn’t matter. The way New England likes to wheel and deal on draft day it would actually be an upset if they really do pick at 17.


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 16th Pick, Jacksonville Selects ...

Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson.

A classic case of need meeting value. Among their many defensive needs, the Jaguars could benefit from finding a quality defensive end they can plug right into their defense.

There have been some concerns about Bowers’ left knee, which he had surgery on in January, but most reports I have seen recently indicate that Bowers’ knee should be fine. Still, concerns about it have caused him to slide this far in our mock draft.

Draft Countdown has this to say about Bowers:

Capable of lining up on either the left or right side and can even move inside in certain situations - Doesn’t necessarily profile as an elite sack artist at the next level but should be a superb two-way defender who’s competent versus both the pass and the run.

The Jaguars say ‘thank you’ and grab the highly-regarded defensive end with this selection. Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan and Cal’s Cameron Jordan might also merit consideration here.


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 15th Pick, Miami Selects ...

Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas.

This is a great pick -- for the New York Giants. Is it a great pick for the Miami Dolphins? I am not so sure about that. I made it here, though, because there are more and more rumblings that this is the move Miami seems likely to make.

Why is this a great pick for the Giants? Well, two other players widely considered to be on Miami's radar screen here -- Alabama running Mark Ingram and Florida OG/C Mike Pouncey -- are also thought of as possibilities for New York at No. 19. The Giants have zero interest in a quarterback, so this improves the Giants' chances of getting a player on their board.

Increasingly, it seems Miami does not want to wait until the second round and see which quarterbacks are left on the board. Mallett is a gifted passer, but there are many questions about his commitment. From Draft Countdown:

... grades out as a first round talent on film, however doubts about intangibles could result in a Draft Day fall --- A prototypical pocket passer and impressive physical specimen who could potentially be the next Drew Bledsoe if everything clicks but Derek Anderson may be a more realistic comparison  ---  Profiles as classic Boom or Bust prospect.

So, the question. Are the Dolphins grabbing the next Dan Marino here? Maybe. They could also be grabbing the next Ryan Leaf. Such is the gamble you take when drafting a first-round quarterback.

Prospect or Suspect: Ryan Mallett (via CBSSports)


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 14th Pick, St. Louis Selects ...

Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn.

St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo is, of course, a defensive head coach coach. In his wildest dreams he never could have expected to find Fairley, considered at one time a possible first overall selection, sitting here for the Rams at No. 14.

Fairley is without doubt a top 10 talent, and he is only still on the board because of some concerns about character and commitment that have arisen during the pre-draft workout and interview process. Still, the Rams need an anchor in the middle of Spagnuolo's 4-3 defense and with his background (Philly and the NY Giants) you know that he understands the importance of the defensive line.

The Rams could use help in several other areas -- wide receiver, linebacker, safety, offensive line to name a few. No player on the board at any of those positions matches the value presented by Fairley, and that makes this an easy choice.

Draft Preview: Nick Fairley (via foxsports)


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 13th Pick, Detroit Selects ...

Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College.

This pick presents the Detroit Lions with a really interesting choice. Castonzo, who some think is the best offensive tackle in the 2011 NFL Draft class, is available. Most people think he is a lock as an NFL starting tackle for the next 10 years. Also still on the board is Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, a likely top 5 talent who is only still available due to some lingering concerns about his knee.

The choice is this: Grab the stud offensive tackle to try and keep oft-injured franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford upright, or take the stud defensive end to pair with Ndamukong Suh and potentially have a dominant defensive front for the next decade.

I chose Castonzo for the simple reason that, for better or worse, the fate of the Lions is tied to whether or not they can keep Stafford healthy for the next few seasons. They have no chance of doing that with aging (Jeff Backus) and ineffective (Gosder Cherilus) tackles.

In the clip below Castonzo is matched up with North Carolina stud defensive end Robert Quinn, who went sixth in our mock draft to Cleveland and is considered a top 10 talent. Castonzo had just mixed success with Quinn, but there is a reason why the North Carolina defensive end is already off the board.

Robert Quinn vs. Anthony Castonzo (via AloAloysius)


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With The 12th Pick, Minnesota Selects ...

Julio Jones, WR, Alabama.

What the Minnesota Vikings really need is a quarterback to throw the ball to a dynamic wide receiver like Jones. I am not sure, though, that the Vikings are ready to leap on the Ryan Mallett-Andy-Dalton-Christian Ponder bandwagon at this point. More likely, the Vikings wait — and I think make a move for someone like Kevin Kolb or Donovan McNabb once the lockout ends.

Minnesota wide receiver Sidney Rice is a free agent and Percy Harvin missed time last season with migraines. Jones is a 6-foot-3, 220-pound receiver with 4.39 speed who profiles as a No. 1 receiver. No quarterback for the Vikings here, but in this scenario they say ‘thank you very much’ and move on.

Of course, in the real NFL Draft I believe the Vikings could easily be tempted to trade this pick if they decide not to go for a quarterback.


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 11th Pick, Houston Selects

Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri.

I have not seen Smith’s name connected to the Houston Texans with this pick very often, but this makes a lot of sense to me the way our mock draft has played out thus far.

The 6-foot-5, 263-pound Smith draws athletic comparisons to the New York Giants Jason Pierre-Paul, a raw prospect who was taken 15th by New York a season ago.

With the success enjoyed by Pierre-Paul, and with the Texans moving to a 3-4 under the direction of Wade Phillips, a potentially dynamic edge rusher like Smith seems like an excellent fit for the Texans.

Draft Countdown says Smith “may ultimately go down as one of the best players to come out of this class if he fulfills his vast potential.”

I also considered Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley and Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers here. Those two players, however, are generally thought to be considred better fits for the 4-3 defense. Thus, Smith is the pick.


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With 10th Pick, Washington Selects ...

Jake Locker, QB, Washington.

A couple of weeks ago this pick seemed highly unlikely. There is an increasing belief, though, that there will be a first-round run on quarterbacks. Where it once seemed that only Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert would be selected in the first round, I have seen analysts recently predict that as many as six quarterbacks could be selected among the first 32 picks.

The Redskins would, in reality, probably love to move out of this pick. They are without third- or fourth-round picks in this draft, so moving down and acquiring more picks is probably a strong consideration here. In our draft, though, we are not making or forecasting trades. That leaves the Redskins to go ahead and make this pick.

What Washington currently has at quarterback is Donovan McNab, who no one believes will be there whenever the 2011 season opens, and Rex Grossman, who no one is deluded enough to believe is the long-term answer.

Thus, the Redskins grab Locker. He likely will need a season of sitting behind Grossman before being ready to take over, but I think the Redskins could live with Grossman for a year.


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With Ninth Pick Dallas Selects ...

Tyron Smith, OT, USC. [Full profile]

Smith, considered by most to be the offensive tackle who will come off the board first in the 2011 NFL Draft, has been the consensus choice for the Dallas Cowboys by most draft analysts for several weeks now.

As the draft approaches and the rumor mill swirls there is talk that the Cowboys might try to sign a veteran tackle in free agency. There is also talk that Dallas is willing to trade out of this pick and move down. Trading down is a possibility, but in our mock scenario we are not allowing trades. Thus, Dallas stays at No. 9 and we stay with the chalk pick, USC’s Smith.

Smith is a raw 20-year-old who played on the right side at USC, but is considered to have left tackle skills and athleticism, and though to have the most upside of any tackle in the draft. Dallas, or any team that takes him, might not reap immediate dividends. Smith, though, could well be worth waiting for.


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With Eighth Pick, Tennessee Selects ...

Prince Amakumara, CB, Nebraska.

The Tennessee Titans really need a quarterback since they are moving on from the Vince Young debacle. The two quarterbacks who the Titans could go for at this point -- Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert -- are already gone and Ryan Mallett and Jake Locker seem like big reaches at this point.

Thus, the Titans do the next-best thing and take Amakumara to address their need at cornerback. Amakumara is considered good value at this point, and the Titans can address the quarterback position in the second round.

Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley is a consideration here, talent-wise, but there are so many concerns about his character and attitude make the Titans pass here. After their experiences with Young and Albert Haynesworth they won't want to take that type of risk with a pick this early in the draft.

Draft Countdown calls Amakumara "A well-rounded player with the physical tools and intangibles to be a legitimate #1 corner in the NFL."


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With Seventh Pick, San Francisco Selects ...

Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU.

I have no idea how this draft could work out any better for the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers are desperate for help at the cornerback position, and Peterson is the top-rated corrnerback in the draft. Not only that, many draft boards have Peterson ranked at the No. 1 overall prospect in the entire 2011 NFL Draft. To find that value sitting at No. 7, matching a position of dire need, means the 49ers have struck gold here.

Draft Countdown summarized Peterson this way:

Extraordinary talent and physical specimen with a rare blend of size and speed who profiles as a shutdown corner at the next level.

Peterson is 6-foot, 219 pounds. In addition to being the best corner in the draft, Peterson is a tremendous punt and kickoff return man who also profiles as a player who could successfully move to safety later in his career. If Peterson is available in the real NFL Draft next Thursday, the 49ers should sprint to the podium to get this pick to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The Amazing Patrick Peterson (via lukemayeux)


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With Sixth Pick, Cleveland Selects ...

Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina.

The Cleveland Browns face a choice here between wide receiver Julio Jones of Alabama and Quinn, a pass-rushing defensive end. Cleveland is transitioning from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3, and that makes getting player for that system a priority, particularly defensive linemen.

Among the defensive linemen who might be considered at this point in the draft, Quinn seems to be rated slightly higher than Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers or Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley.

Draft Countdown points out that Cleveland General Manager Mike Holmgren coached Reggie White in Green Bay, so he understands the impact on an edge rusher.

Draft Countdown summarizes Quinn this way:

A special talent who was viewed as a potential No. 1 overall pick prior to being suspended --- Possesses the tools needed to become a truly elite pass rusher in the NFL.

Up next will be the San Francisco 49ers with the seventh overall pick.

-- Mocking The Draft's Scouting Report on Quinn


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With The Fifth Pick, Arizona Selects ...

Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri.

One of my cardinal draft rules is when you need a don't have a franchise quarterback and you believe there is one on the board when you select in the NFL Draft, you do not pass up the opportunity to select him. That is the situation the Arizona Cardinals find themselves in.

The Cardinals simply cannot afford to come out of the 2011 NFL Draft without a quarterback. Plainly, they don't have an NFL-caliber one on the roster. Derek Anderson? Please. Fordham's John Skelton? Tarleton State's Richard Bartel? Who even knew there was a college named Tarleton State?

Arizona really doesn't have much choice but to take Gabbert here. The Cardinals could wait until Round 2 and choose from the plethora of second-round type talent likely to be there. Many analysts, though, believe Gabbert will be the best NFL quarterback in this year's draft class. When you don't have an NFL-caliber quarterback, but you do have wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, that is tough to pass up.

-- Full scouting report

Draft Preview: Blaine Gabbert (via foxsports)


SB Nation New York 2011 NFL Mock Draft: With The Fourth Pick, Cincinnati Selects ...

A.J. Green, WR, Georgia.

I know all about the standoff between the Cincinnati Bengals and veteran quarterback Carson Palmer. I know Palmer says he will retire rather than ever play for the Bengals again. I know Missouri's Blaine Gabbert is the No. 2 quarterback on the list, and a lot of analysts think Cincinnati will select Gabbert here.

I am just not buying the idea that the Bengals will take a quarterback here and cave to Palmer this easily.

Green is the consensus best player on the board at a position of need other than quarterback for the Bengals, thus he is the choice here.

SB Nation's Mocking The Draft summarized the 6-foot-4, 212-pound Green this way:

Few rookies will have the opportunity to contribute as quickly as Green, and perhaps no player in this draft is better suited to play in the NFL immediately.

AJ Green: The Perfect Receiver (via johnsobasky)


SB Nation New York 2011 Mock Draft: With Third Pick, Buffalo Selects ...

Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M.

The Buffalo Bills could do a lot of things here. They could go with Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert, but they don't seem inclined to do that. They could go with LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, who some experts see as the No. 1 player overall in the entire draft. They could do with a defensive tackle like Auburn's Nick Fairley.

The chalk right now is that the Bills will go for Miller, a dynamic edge rusher who should be an immediate difference-maker for Buffalo, regardless of whether they stay with the 3-4 defensive scheme or begin to show more 4-3 looks.

Both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay of ESPN have the Bills taking Miller, as does the most recent SB Nation Mock Draft. Kiper says "Miller will impact games next year more than any rookie in the draft."

-- Full Von Miller Scouting Report

Texas A&M Von Miller Highlights (via LoservilleTV)


SB Nation New York 2011 Mock Draft: With The Second Pick, Denver Selects ...

Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama.

The Denver Broncos have a new, defensive-minded, head coach in John Fox. They are going against the NFL grain and converting from the 3-4 defense to the 4-3. The Broncos have lots of needs on the defensive side of the ball, side the defense absolutely won't work without stout defensive tackles.

In its most recent mock draft SB Nation also has Dareus going to the Broncos here. SB Nation says "this pick represents a convergence of safe pick, need pick and talent pick all in one."

Draft Countdown says Dareus is "capable of wreaking havoc in the backfield from multiple positions."

Fox and the Broncos need the right players to re-structure this defense. When thinking about this pick, don't forget that Fox spent time as the New York Giants defensive coordinator, and the Giants are a team that places extraordinary emphasis on solidifying the defensive line. Dareus seems like the right player for Denver to start with.

Draft Preview: Marcell Dareus (via foxsports)


SB Nation New York 2011 Mock Draft: With First Pick, Carolina Selects ...

Cam Newton, QB, Auburn.

From everything you hear it seems more and more likely that this is the pick the Carolina Panthers will make next week when the real 2011 NFL Draft takes place. This is a classic ‘boom or bust’ pick and SB Nation’s Mocking The Draft is right when it calls Newton “the most polarizing player in the 2011 NFL Draft.”

He could be great. He could be the next Jamarcus Russell. Newton has all the physical tools, but there are questions galore about the Heisman Trophy winner. Does he have the accuracy? Can he transition to the pro game? What about his character and all the off-the-field drama that has surrounded him?

Nobody knows for sure. The Panthers’ new coaching staff, led by head coach Ron Rivera, don’t seem sold on last year’s second-round pick, Jimmy Clausen, as their quarterback of the future.

In reality, the Panthers are already terrible so what do they really have to lose here if they don’t believe in Clausen? If Newton is a bust are they really any worse off than where they started? Probably not. If he turns out to be a star, they have a quarterback for the next decade.

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