Well what do you think guys? Gabbert to the Cards would be a steal.Forty Niners not drafting a Qb would mean they get a veteran. Skins taking Newton will they gamble on him. Why is it the Bucs always take the player I want the Falcon's to take in Kerrigan? I do think Torrey Smith has star potential and just read he broke all of Devin Hester's records in the ACC on returns. I've read Smith can be comparable to Roddy White so it would be nice to have an explosive player opposite White. All the def ends pretty much were drafted before the Falcon's. The corner from Texas Aaron Williams was still on the board I noiticed come the Falcon's pick.
Drafting this low I don't see how the Falcon's would do any better than Smith. Outside of Jones and Green could be the best receiver in this draft. It's still early but it was interesting seeing Kiper's first mock.
Originally Published: January 19, 20112011 NFL Mock Draft 1.0A wide range on where quarterbacks could go highlights the early mockEmail Print Comments138 By Mel Kiper
When the presumptive No. 1 overall draft pick opts to go back to school, it can really alter the draft process. As I detailed here, when Stanford QB Andrew Luck made that decision, dominos fell. And in over 30 years of evaluating talent, many of them for ESPN, this year sticks out as one that could have a lot of movement throughout the process leading to the draft. But it's time to get going.
As it is every year, the mock draft is a blend of my evaluations, hundreds of conversations with people who scout these prospects, people who have coached them and many who plan to. And there's always some gut calls. The usual ground rules apply: The mock draft reflects the current order. The last four picks are based on regular-season records, not predictions. Will there be trades? Of course. But those obviously can't be predicted. As always, juniors and draft-eligible sophomores are noted with an asterisk.
Let's get the season -- and the debates -- started ...
Carolina PanthersRecord: 2-14
* Nick Fairley, DT, AuburnThe No. 1 overall player on the Big Board, and one who can pay immediate dividends. Fairley isn't just a safe pick because of his excellent burst, violent hand action and ability to effectively penetrate and be a constant nuisance against both the run and pass; he also has the chance to be a dominant player regardless of system. Detroit and Tampa Bay drafted the top defensive tackles at Nos. 2 and 3 last year. Carolina should start earlier in 2011. A slight mean streak in a DT isn't the worst trait. Even Ndamukong Suh showed a bit of one this season.
Denver BroncosRecord: 4-12
* Patrick Peterson, CB, LSUDenver CB Champ Bailey is a future Hall of Famer, but he's a free agent entering his 13th NFL season and Peterson has the physical skills to be an immediate starter in the secondary and a force in the return game. Denver has enough needs where it could go several directions with this pick, but getting the best size-speed combo in the draft, a guy who can help immediately, is a smart play. Simply an electrifying talent.
Buffalo BillsRecord: 4-12
* Marcell Dareus, DE, AlabamaBuffalo has started to assemble the pieces for its 3-4 defense and Dareus has outstanding pass-rush skills and fits as a defensive end in the system. This is too early to take an offensive tackle in terms of value, but it's a good opportunity to land an ideal fit if the Bills don't want to trade down. I'm sure some Bills fans would clamor for a guy like A.J. Green in this spot, but after 2010 the Bills simply have to address the lines, and the development of Stevie Johnson limits the receiver need anyway.
Cincinnati BengalsRecord: 4-12
* Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
Rookie Carlos Dunlap came on late for the Bengals and finished with 9.5 sacks, but the chance to draft the best pure pass-rusher on the board and immediately have in place a more formidable pass rush is too much to pass up. Bowers has the skill-set, explosiveness and relentless pass-rushing skills of a No. 1 overall pick. He's a good value, even at No. 4.
Arizona CardinalsRecord: 5-11
* Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
The Cardinals were a mess at quarterback in 2010, and while Max Hall and John Skelton showed glimpses, both are projects, and there's no real solution in place for next season outside of a trade. Gabbert will be under the microscope during the testing process perhaps more than any other player, but at this stage he's the most NFL-ready QB in the draft. Arizona is in a tough spot: If the Cardinals pass on Gabbert, there won't be a QB who can do more for them sooner than Skelton or Hall later in the draft. Gabbert offers a strong arm, protoype size, reads the game well and has a lot of upside.
Cleveland BrownsRecord: 5-11
* A.J. Green, WR, GeorgiaThe Browns need a No.1 wideout and Green has fit the profile since he landed between the hedges at Georgia. Green is a complete package, with size, speed and solid route-running skills, and he will be the best friend of a young quarterback as a player that's able to go up and take the ball away. Cleveland has some good pieces, and Green is exactly what Colt McCoy needs.
San Francisco 49ersRecord: 6-10
* Robert Quinn, DE, North CarolinaIt's an understatement to say that Quinn will be fresh. After sitting out his entire junior year at Chapel Hill, it's a testament to Quinn's talent that he's this high on the draft board. And make no mistake -- scouts think extremely highly of Quinn. If his preparations for the draft process are up to par, at this spot he offers the Niners a pure pass-rusher at defensive end that can only be matched by Bowers.
Tennessee TitansRecord: 6-10
Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&MMiller has the reputation of a big-time sack artist but his game is more diversified than he gets credit for. What Miller brings in Week 1 is a great third-down option. A gifted edge-rusher, he can get to the quarterback, but you can also mix it up and drop him into zone coverage, where he has speed and developing awareness at the position. A solid tackler, Miller will only get better in the 4-3 system as he adjusts to the NFL game.
Dallas CowboysRecord: 6-10
Prince Amukamara, CB, NebraskaA great value here, Amukamara is the best pure ball-hawking corner in the draft. A technician with outstanding instincts, ball skills and anticipation, he immediately provides an upgrade in the Dallas secondary. The Cowboys need help at corner, and this spot is still a tad too early to go with offensive line help based on current grades, so this makes sense. Amukamara is the kind of player that can help the pass rush and also make quick decisions turn into interceptions.
Washington RedskinsRecord: 6-10
* Cam Newton, QB, AuburnA gifted athlete, Newton has good arm strength and size, has developing accuracy and continues to show that the more you ask him as a passer, the more he'll develop. This spot might be a bit high based on his current grade in the eyes of scouts, but Newton's skill-set is such that personnel people are going to become more enamored, if they already aren't. Newton has character questions that need to be answered, but the Redskins have a long-term need at this position and the prospect of developing Newton is a tantalizing one.
Houston TexansRecord: 6-10
* Aldon Smith, OLB, MissouriA late addition to the Big Board, Smith's declaration moved him up among draft-eligible pass-rushers. Smith is more athlete than refined pass-rusher at this stage, but he has a great wing-span and is a perfect size and speed combination to develop as an outside linebacker. We know Houston has to address the defensive side of the ball and Smith is the kind of high-upside player that will fly up the board as personnel people start seeing the tape. He'll improve a weak pass rush.
Nate Solder, OT, ColoradoOffensive line has gone from a strength to a weakness in a short period for the Vikings and Solder offers a solution as an athletic player who can help immediately on the right side. He has the massive frame and footwork to eventually become a top-flight left tackle. Durable, smart and a guy who sustains his blocks, Solder is my top-rated tackle, a position that usually would be gone before this stage.
Detroit LionsRecord: 6-10
* Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLADetroit needs help in the secondary, but unless it moves down it can't get good value here with the top two corners off the board. However, the Lions won't complain if Ayers, a freakish athlete with smarts and outstanding versatility at the linebacker position, is still here. After upgrading their defensive line in 2010, the Lions need guys that can fly to the ball, and Ayers is a sideline-to-sideline tackler who can also rush the QB and drop into coverage. A safe pick.
St. Louis RamsRecord: 7-9
* Julio Jones, WR, AlabamaWhen they drafted No. 1 overall last year, many people thought the Rams could be looking at wideouts within the top 5 of this year's draft. But their great improvement has them further down the board. Good thing for them, Jones offers top-10 talent at a bargain in this spot. Big and physical, Jones showed a more refined game this past season, eliminating drops and making catches all over the field from every formation. A perfect fit to grow with Sam Bradford.
Miami DolphinsRecord: 7-9
* Mark Ingram, RB, AlabamaThe top-rated running back on the board, Ingram will step in effectively for Ricky Williams and improve the Miami ground game. Ingram runs with great pad level and leverage and seems to explode from contact. He has a good burst through the hole and is a terror once he gets to the second level.
Jacksonville JaguarsRecord: 8-8
Adrian Clayborn, DE, IowaJacksonville worked on its defensive line last offseason and via the draft, and Clayborn offers a final piece to solidify a good unit. A powerful edge-rusher, Clayborn batters opposing linemen with a relentlessness that makes him among the most difficult players to prepare for. Smart and disciplined enough to hold the edge, he's a perfect fit for the Jacksonville system.
New England Patriots (from Oakland)Record: 14-2
* J.J. Watt, DE, WisconsinThe Patriots need to target their defensive line and Watt can help them early as a 3-4 DE. A penetrator, Watt is constantly in the backfield and will occupy blocks with a variety of moves. He was a tackles-for-loss machine at Wisconsin and at 6-foot-6 gets his hands in passing lanes. A smart player, he should adjust quickly to Bill Belichick's system. The Patriots have to build a more formidable pass-rush and Watt can help.
San Diego ChargersRecord: 9-7
Cameron Jordan, DE, CaliforniaJordan is a good fit for the Chargers, particularly as they consider their defensive direction. He's not a system-specific player (Jordan thrives as a 3-4 defensive end), but his quickness means he could handle edge duties in a 4-3. His dad, Steve, was a six-time Pro Bowl tight end, so the NFL lineage is there. The Chargers should address defense first, and Jordan offers solid mid-first round value here.
New York GiantsRecord: 10-6
Mike Pouncey, G/C, FloridaHis brother went to Pittsburgh at No. 18 overall last year, looked like a Pro Bowl player early and became one late in his rookie season. The other Pouncey has similar attributes. He's durable, smart and versatile along the interior. By far the best player at his position in this draft, he should pay immediate dividends for the Giants and be effective as both a run- and pass-blocker.
Tampa Bay BuccaneersRecord: 10-6
Ryan Kerrigan, DE, PurdueLast season, Tampa addressed the interior of its defensive line with the first two picks. Now, the Bucs should target the edge, because even though they've improved, this team still lacks a steady pass rush. Kerrigan is a pass-rusher; he led the nation in tackles for loss this past season and was all but unblockable. He is developing his secondary moves but is among the more relentless players in the college game; he is a potential long-term solution as a sack artist.
Kansas City ChiefsRecord: 10-6
Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon StateAmong personnel people, I find a wide range of opinion on Paea. Some think he's an anchor on the defensive line, a force that could go much higher. Others see some inconsistency and believe he could fall to the second round. He'll be a guy to watch during the draft process. Still, what he can do is immediately strengthen a rush defense. He occupies blocks with great leverage and big-time strength. Paea will do a number on the bench-press. Not a great penetrator but he frees up tacklers and fits this system.
Indianapolis ColtsRecord: 10-6
Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston CollegeThe Colts need to strengthen their offensive line in order to reclaim the running game and keep heat off Peyton Manning, who will be 35 when the 2011 season kicks off. Castonzo offers stability as a versatile tackle who will never miss a snap. He could add some bulk, but that's not the most difficult area to address. With well-above-average smarts, awareness and work-rate, he'd fit well in Indy at a position the Colts need to fill.
Philadelphia EaglesRecord: 10-6
Gabe Carimi, OT, WisconsinThe Eagles are loaded at the skill positions and did a nice job of hitting defense early in last year's draft, so they should address the offensive line at a place where the value meets the need. In Carimi they get a guy who loves to run-block and will sustain his blocks into the parking lot. He plays with an edge but needs continued development as a pass-blocker. His film against some big-time prospects this year shows a guy ready to contribute.
New Orleans SaintsRecord: 11-5
* Justin Houston, DE, GeorgiaAn outside linebacker to some, I see Houston developing into a great edge-rusher as a 4-3 defensive end. The Saints need help at that spot and Houston is a guy who could pay big dividends into the second half of his rookie season as he grows into the role. With great length, quickness and pass-rushing instincts, he'll help the Saints get to opposing QBs without being forced to rely on the blitz.
Seattle SeahawksRecord: 7-9
* Ryan Mallett, QB, ArkansasEverything about Mallett's arm screams top 10, but he could fall a bit as a player who needs to develop footwork and the willingness to bite off only as much as he can chew. That said, Mallett's game progressed in 2010. He showed improved accuracy and a willingness to move around and consider the dump-off passes he often passed up as a younger player. With a year of development, he could be a good value here and a long-term answer for the Seahawks. It'll be asked, but my sources tell me the Seahawks prefer him to Washington's Jake Locker -- at least right now.
Baltimore RavensRecord: 12-4
* Brandon Harris, CB, MiamiThe Ravens ran into some really bad luck last year, when their first pick, Sergio Kindle, got hurt off the field. And among all their other picks, one spot they didn't hit was cornerback. Harris is a solid value at this stage, as he carries a late-first round grade. A coach's son, he offers prototype size at 5-11, 195 pounds, good instincts and isn't shy in run support. The Ravens need to address the secondary and Harris is a good option.
Atlanta FalconsRecord: 13-3
* Torrey Smith, WR, MarylandAtlanta needs to develop a pass-catching target across from Roddy White, and Smith is a guy who can get downfield, work underneath and will always be a home run threat when he catches the ball. He also offers a serious threat in the return game. Atlanta doesn't have a lot of holes and Smith could help take this offense to another level as an explosive threat opposite White.
New England PatriotsRecord: 14-2
Mikel Leshoure, RB, IllinoisThe Patriots, year after year, manage to find solutions at running back. But there are solutions, and there are threats. And the fast-rising Leshoure, a chiseled 6-foot, 227-pound back who ran well in a physical Big Ten this past season, could be the alpha running back the Patriots could use. New England could go a lot of ways with this pick, but remember, the Pats have another pick just a handful of spots down the board and if they want a difference-maker at RB in a draft short on them, this is an option.
Green Bay PackersRecord: 10-6
Christian Ballard, DE, IowaClayborn gets a lot of the attention, but he wasn't the most productive defensive lineman for the Hawkeyes by many accounts this past season. That was Ballard, who fits as a 3-4 defensive end to fortify an improving Packers defense. At 6-4 and a hair under 300 pounds, Ballard is another high-energy guy who can play multiple positions and holds up well against the run.
New York JetsRecord: 11-5
* Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, TempleThe other option here might be to take UCLA free safety Rahim Moore, but I like Wilkerson with the Jets. He offers great value as a defensive lineman to develop, because if he came back, he'd be a likely top-15 pick in 2012. At over 6-4 and 306 pounds, he slots in with the Jets' 3-4 as a defensive end, but was a penetrating defensive tackle. The only guy who's had more sacks than Wilkerson over the last two years from that position is Nebraska's Jared Crick, another big-time prospect. Scheme-versatile, Wilkerson is a great growth-piece for Rex Ryan.
Chicago BearsRecord: 11-5
* Aaron Williams, CB, TexasChicago needs help at corner and Williams is a safe pick. A solid character guy with exceptional ball skills, he has good speed, awareness and above-average size for the position, at a hair under 6-1 and 192 pounds. A guy who excels at the takeaway, he'll be able to deliver INTs for a coach who craves turnovers. He is also a very good special teams player.
Pittsburgh SteelersRecord: 12-4
* Tyron Smith, OT, USCIf the current trend holds, Smith may not last this long, as he is drawing raves from scouts over the last couple months. Regardless, Pittsburgh would be thrilled to get him here, because it's a position the Steelers must address. Smith can start early on the right side and develop into a left tackle, as he has the long frame, excellent footwork, instincts and athleticism that the position requires.
The year's upcoming draft and the college game can be discussed here.
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