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fduffy Three Round 2011 Mock Draft - Early April Mock Draft

04-07-2011

The pro days are wrapping up and Fran Duffy takes the opportunity to update his mock draft.


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| Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 |

Round 1

PickTeamPosPlayerSchool
1Carolina PanthersQBCam Newton #Auburn
 A good friend of mine always used to say, "your actions speak so loudly I can't hear what you're saying." When I take that quote and apply it to the Panthers and their holding of the No. 1 selection, I believe more and more that they will be picking a signal caller later this month. They've been present at every Pro Day for these quarterbacks, and the fact that they haven't stepped up and said that Jimmy Clausen is their guy (like Cleveland's new staff did with Colt McCoy) makes me lean this direction even more. Whether it's Newton or Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, who they've spent a lot of time with as well, I think you'll be seeing a quarterback holding up the first jersey on Draft Day. Newton and the Panthers have been linked together from numerous publications and reporters, and I think he might be the way they go when the going gets tough less than a month from now. If they decide that quarterback isn't the way to go, I see Patrick Peterson, A.J. Green and Marcel Dareus all has possible selections.
2Denver BroncosDTMarcell Dareus #Alabama
 After running a 3-4 defense for the past couple of seasons, the Broncos will be switching back to a 4-3 under incoming head coach John Fox. Right now, the cupboards are bare when it comes to interior linemen, meaning I really think the Broncos will go with one of the top two defensive tackles in this draft, Marcell Dareus or Nick Fairley. In my opinion, Dareus is the safer selection, and his versatility and high motor will make him a favorite for their coaching staff. What I mean by versatility is that Dareus is a force both against the run as well as the pass, and excels on special teams blocking kicks. He will be an impact player from Day One. The Broncos also have a number of other holes to fill, including at cornerback, where Patrick Peterson would be a welcome addition to an aging secondary.
3Buffalo BillsQBBlaine Gabbert #Missouri
 Of all the teams in this draft, I don't believe any has shown as much interest in Auburn quarterback Cam Newton as the Bills. Much has been said about all of their meetings and visits with him, and how well his athleticism suits head coach Chan Gailey's offensive system. All that being said, Gabbert is a great athlete in his own right, and has the explosiveness and mobility to excel in that same scheme, which predicates on a mobile quarterback to successfully run the many bootlegs and rollouts in the playbook. Gabbert will have a very smart mentor in Ryan Fitzpatrick, allowing him to absorb the offense at a slower pace and give him some time to get into the swing of things scheme-wise once camp starts. The Bills have to also be very interested in Texas A&M's Von Miller, the top pass rusher in the draft, as they are still trying to recover from the epic failure that was Aaron Maybin.
4Cincinnati BengalsWRA.J. Green #Georgia
 The Bengals have reportedly been interested in moving up a couple spots in the draft to jump ahead of Buffalo, presumably to ensure that they get one of the top two signal callers in the draft. Owner Mike Brown may not give veteran Carson Palmer his trade request, but that doesn't mean they don't think he'll follow through on his end of the deal. They have to protect themselves, and that means they will have to select a quarterback at some point in this draft. Unfortunately, with the way the cards fell here, one could not fall to them, meaning that wideout A.J. Green is the choice. Green is one of the most dynamic receiving threats to come out in years, and gives the team a true threat opposite the aging (and controversial) Chad Ochocinco. Cincinnati also has a number of holes on the defensive side of the football and could realistically improve at every level of the unit, making Patrick Peterson, Nick Fairley, Robert Quinn, Von Miller and Da'Quan Bowers all viable options.
5Arizona Cardinals34LB/OLBVon MillerTexas A&M
 Patrick Peterson will be very tempting for the Cardinals here, but with the team spending a first round selection on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie just a few seasons ago and with their lack of an elite pass rusher, I think Miller is the more logical choice for the team. The team tried to fill that role with veteran Joey Parter last season, but it just didn't pan out the way the team planned. Miller is an explosive pass rusher who should put opposing passers on their backs for years to come. If Miller is off the board already, obviously Peterson would be a great choice here, and with the need at quarterback that could always be a possibility.
6Cleveland BrownsDE/34LBRobert Quinn #North Carolina
 I'm a huge fan of Robert Quinn, and I think this is a great landing spot for the former Tar Heel. The Browns are switching back to a 4-3 defense, and currently don't really have guys that could excel as a defensive end in that system. Enter Quinn who, even after a year off, still looked just as explosive an athlete as he did on film in 2009. He gives them a great pass rushing presence on one end of their line, filling that role for years to come. Other options include cornerback Patrick Peterson, who would pair with 2010 first-round pick Joe Haden, as well as Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers, who I have dropped a few slots on my board due to injury concerns.
7San Francisco 49ersCBPatrick Peterson #LSU
 Talk about a perfect fit! The 49ers have a couple of major holes in the secondary both at cornerback and free safety, and lucky for them Peterson (who some have rated as the best player in the draft regardless of position) is still on the board and can play both spots. The former Bayou Bengal is one of the most dynamic athletes I've ever seen, and is a bonafide Top 5 talent. Unfortunately the need for cornerbacks just aren't as prevalent this year at the top of the draft compared to previous years. If Peterson is in fact off the board though, I could see San Francisco going with Prince Amukamara, or in a shocker perhaps even Mizzou's Aldon Smith as an outside linebacker in their 3-4. Regardless, Peterson would be a slam dunk if he fell to this spot.
8Tennessee TitansDTNick Fairley #Auburn
 Speaking of slam dunks, Nick Fairley to Tennessee is another match made in draftnik heaven. The former Tiger could step right in and fill a hole left by the departed Albert Haynesworth (yeah they're still reeling from that in Nashville), and give them a dominating interior presence. Fairley is a guy that could easily come off the board earlier than this, but his inconsistent motor may usurp his potential in some teams minds. To top it all off, Fairley's old position coach (Tracy Rocker), just joined the Titans as defensive line coach. You can bet that he'll be giving his former pupil a glowing endorsement to the Tennessee higher-ups. The Titans have to go about replacing quarterback Vince Young in some way, so quarterback is always an option here, especially if one of the top two passers falls. Otherwise, the team could go with cornerback Prince Amukamara or defensive end Da'Quan Bowers.
9Dallas CowboysCBPrince AmukamaraNebraska
 The Cowboys are in a very uncommon position in that for a team in the top ten, they don't have too many holes to fill. They have a major need at defensive end, but with the draft being as deep as it is at the position, they could look to address that area later. Instead, I see them splurging for a great talent in Amukamara, who proved his worth in the combine and in private workouts since then. A physical corner with great speed, he will provide excellent depth behind a declining Terrence Newman and an inconsistent Mike Jenkins. If the Cowboys choose to go in another direction, Cal's Cameron Jordan, Wisconsin's J.J. Watt or even Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson are all viable options up front. The offensive line is an area of concern as well, so this would be the first time I would imagine seeing a tackle such as Tyron Smith or Gabe Carimi being mentioned as possible options.
10Washington RedskinsQBJake LockerWashington
 With the Donovan McNabb experience failing miserably in the nation's capital and with backup Rex Grossman staring free agency in the face, the Redskins are in dire need for a signal caller at some point this offseason. With a lack of free agency, owner Daniel Snyder was unable to make his usual big splash, so I expect the team to go with a guy they've been smitten with for quite some time now. Locker was expected to be a top selection when the Redskins held the fourth overall pick in 2010, and after he decided to stay in school Washington is again a potential landing spot. I think he's a great fit for coach Mike Shanahan's offense, and while there will be a growing period needed I think Locker is the guy the Redskins need. There have been some murmurs that the team likes quarterback Ryan Mallett as well, so that's something to keep an eye out for, while the defensive end, wide receiver, and offensive line positions are all areas of concern as well.
11Houston TexansDE/34LBAldon Smith #Missouri
 The Texans have a defense in transition after adding defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to the staff, who will implement his version of the 3-4 defense. Smith is a long, raw pass rusher who is cut in the mold of an ideal Phillips rush 'backer, and he is sure to be a favorite of his heading into draft weekend. The team could also serve itself well by adding some more beef up front, so J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan and Muhammad Wilkerson are all possibilities. While I'm a big fan of his, I don't know if defensive back Aaron Williams has proven himself to be taken this high, so the secondary will have to be addressed later in the draft. The team could also shock the draft world and pair superstar Andre Johnson with Julio Jones, formulating one of the most dangerous offenses in football.
12Minnesota VikingsDEDa'Quan Bowers #Clemson
 A month ago, many had Bowers slated to go first overall to Carolina, but as more and more questions come up regarding the defensive ends knee, the further his stock will fall. Linemen with bad knees are a given in the NFL, but ones that come into the league as damaged goods aren't exactly held in high regard. Watching his Pro Day last week, Bowers didn't look all that impressive at all, and didn't look like he was going full speed at any point. While that won't send him out of Round One, these injury questions could absolutely ship him out of the Top Ten, where the Vikings would love to grab him to replace the likely departed Ray Edwards, who is facing free agency. If Bowers isn't available, the team could choose to go with Cal's Cameron Jordan or Wisconsin's J.J. Watt. Offensive tackle Tyron Smith is also a possibility, as Bryant McKinnie may be more trouble than he's worth at this point in his career.
13Detroit LionsOTTyron Smith #USC
 In terms of their needs as a football team, the Lions are really in no man's land at 13th Overall. They're too far out of reach for one of the top corners, and I don't think Akeem Ayers has shown that he's worthy of being a Top-15 selection. That being said, it probably behoove them to trade down, but for the sake of this mock I have them drafting a blindside protector to help keep their prize quarterback off his back. Smith is one of, if not the, best pass protectors in the draft class, and makes the Lions better at two positions as it allows Jeff Backus to slide inside to guard. If the Lions choose to go a different route, they could add cornerback Jimmy Smith, Ayers or Colorado's Nate Solder.
14St. Louis RamsWRJulio Jones #Alabama
 Another slam dunk selection for a team in the Top-15, Jones makes perfect sense for the Rams here. They desperately need more weapons to put at Sam Bradford's proposal, and Julio Jones put himself into the upper echelon of prospects after the year he had in 2010. Pair last season with his performance at the NFL Combine and this is one of the best fits yet in the draft. Jones would also flourish in new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' system, making him and Bradford one of the top combinations in the league. If for some odd reason the Rams decide not to take Jones, they could decide to take a defensive tackle (although history tells them NOT to do that i.e. Adam Carriker, Jimmy Kennedy and Damione Lewis), making Muhammad Wilkerson or Marvin Austin the choice here.
15Miami DolphinsRBMark Ingram #Alabama
 This seems to be the chic pick among Mock Drafters, and I looked for a reason to deter from it but I couldn't find any. With Ronnie Brown an impending free agent the Dolphins have a huge hole to fill in their rushing attack, and Ingram should fill it. He's a tough back with great vision who should fit in nicely with what the Dolphins like to do on offense. Miami doesn't have great confidence in Chad Henne so Ryan Mallett could be a possibility in this spot. Both lines could use some additional depth as well and I expect Miami to fill those needs later in the draft.
16Jacksonville JaguarsDECameron JordanCalifornia
 A lot of people have Jordan pegged as purely a 3-4 defensive end, but I believe he poses the athleticism to flourish as a 4-3 left end as well, with the ability to shift inside on passing downs. The Jaguars have struck out both in free agency and in the draft with defensive ends the last few years, and haven't had an impact player at that spot since Reggie Hayward was in his hey-day. Jordan's versatility makes him a great addition to a front four that already sports former first round pick Tyson Alualu as well as nose tackle Terrence Knighton, who should have gone to the Pro Bowl in 2010.
PickTeamPosPlayerSchool
17New England PatriotsDEJ.J. Watt #Wisconsin
 We all know that New England is always a team that has the ability to trade up, down or out in the draft, and with a plethora of picks in the first three rounds I expect them to do just that. If they do stay put at this spot, however, I think Watt would be a great addition to their defense. This pick was the one received from the Raiders in exchange for Richard Seymour, so why not replace him with a player that is cut from the same cloth. A tough, gritty 5-technique who will get dirty in the trenches, Watt's motor and intensity will make him a great fit in Foxboro. Temple's Muhammad Wilkerson is another option here, as his versatility and athleticism will make him an attractive option for any 3-4 team.
18San Diego ChargersDTMuhammad Wilkerson #Temple
 The Chargers are another team with a large number of picks on draft day, and they will look to inject some youth into their defense. Wilkerson would be a great fit for San Diego in their 3-4 defense as the 5-technique, and should start immediately. I feel like this is a make or break year for Larry English to prove he's the pass rusher he thought he was when they took him in the first round a couple years ago, meaning they'll wait a bit before adding another pass rusher. The offensive line could use some work as well so Nate Solder, Gabe Carimi and Anthony Costanzo are all distinct possibilities.
19New York GiantsOTAnthony CastonzoBoston College
 One thing that head coach Tom Coughlin has always preached is having a dominating offensive line, and I think you'll see them address that area early on this year through the draft. The G-Men have injury issues on this aging unit, and could definitely use at least one young talent to provide good depth. For that reason, I see Coughlin dipping into his old stomping grounds at Boston College for Costanzo, who could play left or right tackle at the next level. The defensive line and secondary are always areas of importance for Coughlin as well, so it wouldn't surprise me to see him add players to either of those two groups as well.
20Tampa Bay BuccaneersDERyan KerriganPurdue
 Kerrigan was an ultra-productive pass rusher in the Big Ten during his time with the Boilermakers, and his motor and toughness will make him an attractive option to NFL teams. The Bucs added Gerald McCoy and Brian Price with their first two picks in 2010 to anchor their interior line, so added a pass rusher to accompany them will be a great move for them at this point. Iowa's Adrian Clayborn could be another option at the same position, as would Georgia's Justin Houston. Tampa Bay could also serve to add some more youth along the offensive line, and with so many names still available all could be up for going at No. 20. Aquib Talib's well-known legal troubles could also lead to the Bucs drafting one of the top corners available, including Aaron Williams, Jimmy Smith, or Brandon Harris.
21Kansas City ChiefsDTPhil TaylorBaylor
 One of the most intriguing prospects in this draft class is the nose tackle from Baylor University, Phil Taylor. The former Penn Stater is a huge body at 6'3, 334 lbs but he holds the weight well and can really move for a man his size. He's the best pure nose tackle in this draft and a great pick for the Chiefs at this point in Round One. The Chiefs need desperate help on the offensive line, so any of the available linemen including Mike Pouncey, Nate Solder and Gabe Carimi are all possibilities (though keep in mind that GM Scott Pioli has never taken a tackle in Round One.) Don't count out a wide receiver in this spot either, where Jonathan Baldwin or Leonard Hankerson will garner some consideration.
22Indianapolis ColtsOTNate Solder #Colorado
 The Colts are still feeling the effects of Tarik Glenn's retirement, and need help at a number of spots on the offensive line. I think Solder's athleticism will make him a favorite in this spot, as the former tight end should fit in nicely protecting Peyton Manning's blind side. Florida's Mike Pouncey is a definite possibility as well, as his versatility and smarts will make him a great fit in Indy. I wouldn't be surprised to see the team take a defensive tackle here, and Marvin Austin or Stephen Paea are both legitimate options that fit their scheme well.
23Philadelphia EaglesOTGabe CarimiWisconsin
 Winston Justice had some highs and lows in 2010, but his inconsistencies are close to being his undoing. Carimi is a tough, gritty road grader who should excel at right tackle under new offensive line coach Howard Mudd. Carimi will also be in charge of protecting Michael Vick's blind side, and he has the feet to be great in pass protection. All things considered, this is a great fit for the former Badger. If the Eagles decide that Justice can continue to improve, then Mike Pouncey could be an option at guard or center, while Texas' Aaron Williams would be a great addition to the secondary. The team has long had issues at linebacker but hasn't spent a first-round selection on the position in quite some time, but if they look to break the streak then Akeem Ayers would be their man in this spot.
24New Orleans SaintsDEAdrian ClaybornIowa
 Clayborn is a very talented player who some believed would be a top ten pick entering the 2010 season, but a mediocre senior campaign and a lingering arm condition may cause him to drop a bit on draft day. Still, this is a great fit for the high motor defensive end, who will fit in quite nicely opposite veteran Will Smith. The Saints have a number of needs for a team drafting this low, so you could really see them going a number of ways here, including defensive tackle, linebacker, safety, offensive line and even running back.
25Seattle SeahawksDTMarvin AustinNorth Carolina
 I think when it's all said and done, the Seahawks will end up with current Bengal quarterback Carson Palmer, leaving their need for a quarterback squashed. If that's not the case, then Ryan Mallett could very well be the selection here. However, I think Marvin Austin will be a great fit for head coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks. Carroll coached at USC when they were one of Austin's finalists during his recruitment coming out of high school, so the two already have a previous relationship. Austin would be a great fit on a Seattle defense that's still looking for some teeth up front. Other options for the Seahawks include Mallett, Jonathan Baldwin, Mike Pouncey and Aaron Williams.
26Baltimore RavensCBAaron Williams #Texas
 Aaron Williams is one of my favorite prospects in this draft, and in my opinion one of the top players remaining on the board at this point. His versatility to play corner and safety will play dividends in Baltimore, especially in the future. At cornerback, the Ravens have three players facing free agency and injury questions surrounding the whole position. Safety Ed Reed has had rumors of retirement swirling and while it likely won't be this year, it is safe to say he won't be playing in the league for too much longer. Williams can start at cornerback for the Ravens and thrive, and will move to free safety down the line when the time is right. Baltimore also has needs in the front seven, so Cameron Heyward and Justin Houston are both possibilities, while Jonathan Baldwin or Leonard Hankerson are both options as well with the issues the team has at wide receiver.
27Atlanta FalconsCBJimmy SmithColorado
 The Falcons have two glaring needs on their defense, a lack of a pass rush and a weak secondary, and I see them addressing the latter early on later this month. Jimmy Smith is a Top 15 talent but attitude questions and inconsistent play could likely see him drop. In Atlanta, he'll have a strong locker room and support group to keep him in line, and he could really provide the team with a shut-down presence on the outside. Georgia's Justin Houston will be a fan favorite here as well, giving the team someone to pair with veteran John Abraham. However, with the depth at the defensive end position, that is a spot that can be addressed later on draft day.
28New England PatriotsWRJonathan Baldwin #Pittsburgh
 Another guy with Top 15 talent but inconsistent play and personality issues, Baldwin is one of my favorite talents in this draft. A guy with great speed for his size, Baldwin will be a great red zone target and will serve a lot of the same roles that Randy Moss did during his time with the Pats. The Patriots, as we talked about earlier, have a number of options and can go a number of different ways. Wideout is just one need, but they could also go with another pass rusher (Justin Houston?), offensive lineman (Mike Pouncey?), defensive back (Brandon Harris?) or defensive linemen (Stephen Paea?). There are a lot of ways they can go and they have the ammunition to address any or all of them.
29Chicago BearsGMike PounceyFlorida
 While the bigger need on the offensive line is on the outside at tackle, the Bears certainly will benefit by taking the best linemen left on the board in Pouncey. A guy who can play guard or center at the next level, the former Gator may not live up to the standard set by his twin brother, but is a great prospect in his own right. Pouncey should start right away and help to protect Jay Cutler and open up holes for the Chicago running game. Other options here include linebacker Akeem Ayers, cornerback Brandon Harris and tackle Derek Sherrod.
30New York Jets34LB/OLBJustin Houston #Georgia
 One of the premier pass rushers in the draft, Houston may not last on the board this long, but his lack of real production on the field will keep him from being a high end first-round selection. He has a ton of potential, and best fits as a outside backer in a 3-4, a role he should fill well with the Jets. New York could also go with UCLA's Akeem Ayers, who also will fit well in their scheme. The team made some cuts up front, so Ohio State's Cameron Heyward is a very distinct possibility in this slot. At wideout, Miami's Leonard Hankerson could also come off the board here.
31Pittsburgh SteelersCBBrandon Harris #Miami (FL)
 The Steelers lack of depth in the secondary came back to haunt them in the Super Bowl, and with the inability to make any additions in free agency, I expect them to address the cornerback position early on in the draft. Harris is one of the more highly-rated corners in the draft, but his lack of production and slower 40 time make him a borderline first-round selection. The team could use additional beef up front on both lines, so Derk Sherrod and Cameron Heyward are both viable options.
32Green Bay PackersOLB/34LBAkeem Ayers #UCLA
 Green Bay has some issues in the secondary as well, but with the top corners off the board, drafting one here will be a slight reach. Instead, I expect them to address another area of the defense, particularly adding more weapons to their pass rush. Ayers has been mentioned as a possible SAM Linebacker in a 4-3, but I think he's a better pass rushing prospect than anything else. If Ayers is unavailable, then the team could choose to get more help up front in the form of Cameron Heyward, or even trade back into Round Two.

# Denotes Underclassman


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