Who are you going to take?
The following is the result of a more than month-long 2011 NFL Mock Draft that I oversaw and took part in via Facebook. Every team had a "GM" although trades were not allowed. Individuals and their associated teams are listed at the bottom. The goal was to create a realistic guess at what the 2011 NFL Draft could look like mixed with individual opinions on where certain players deserved to be taken. The rationale posted below (unless in italics) was written by the person who made the pick.
*NOTE* Because of the length of this draft, some selections were made when individual players had different draft stocks (mid to late March) and the earlier picks may have been changed if they were made closer to the actual draft.
Round 1 - *COMPLETED*
1. Carolina (2-14) - Nick Fairley, DT - 1) I am not willing to give up on Jimmy Clausen, Troy Aikman went 1-14 or something his rookie year, ended up pretty decent.... and now that he has a coach that knows what a forward pass is he'll be better. 2) DT is a HUGE need for the team, this will allow Charles Johnson and Everett Brown to be a little more freed up(assuming they resign johnson) 3) You apparently cant take a WR or CB with the number one overall pick, and while I would love to have Peterson, DT is a more pressing need, and a more important position.
2. Denver (4-12) - Patrick Peterson, CB - Peterson's the most can't miss player in the draft and having him learn from champ bailey for a couple years is going to be great for him.
3. Buffalo (4-12) - Marcell Dareus, DT - When you have no chance to win anything that season, taking the most talented player should take precedence over filling a position of need, even though dareus accomplishes both.
4. Cincinnati (4-12) - AJ Green, WR - An offense of Green, Palmer, Benson, Grisham and Jerome Simpson could be pretty deadly if Palmer does show up (and this is assuming Ochocinco is traded or cut or something, cause with him that would be a WR core that would give the Saints a run for the best overall talent in a WR core)
5. Arizona (5-11) - Blaine Gabbert, QB - The Cardinals obviously need a quarterback unless they think that John Skelton is the answer. Unless they feel that they'd be better served trading for a QB in Free Agency, Gabbert is the guy for them.
6. Cleveland (5-11) - Von Miller, LB - Miller probably won't fall this far but if he does, the Browns would be thrilled to have his talents to hassle elite divisional rival QB's Flacco and Roethlesberger
7. San Francisco (6-10) - Robert Quinn, LB - Quinn is a elite physical talent and will be a blitzing 3-4 OLB that so many 3-4 teams covet. Justin Smith isn't getting younger and Manny Lawson is a free agent so this may be a position of need very soon.
8. Tennessee (6-10) - Da'Quan Bowers, DE - If the Titans don't take a QB, probably Gabbert, they'll almost certainly pick the best 4-3 DL. Bowers has a high upside, but injury concerns abound so this might be a bit of a reach despite Bowers' physical talents.
9. Dallas (6-10) - Prince Amukamara, CB - The Cowboys couldnt stop anyone on defense last year, in particular struggling against the pass. Their pass rush and D-Line is pretty solid, so that leaves the secondary, where Terrence Newman is a shadow of his former self. Prince is a great talent and a great fit.
10. Washington (6-10) - Julio Jones, WR - The Redskins have needs at every position besides safety, but because Santana Moss is a free agent, they're down to Anthony Armstrong and the perpetually injured Malcolm Kelly. Jones has a combo of size and speed the Redskins have always wanted.
11. Houston (6-10) - Cameron Jordan, DE - Houston's defense was simply awful last season. They have an OK linebacking corps but they need to improve their DL and secondary. If Amukamara is already gone, the choice will simply be the best DL available.
12. Minnesota (6-10) - Cam Newton, QB - The Vikings need a QB and not only do they get the probable #1 overall pick, the get a guy similar to the player they drafted a few years ago (Tarvaris Jackson). Realistically, there's no chance at all Newton will last this long.
13. Detroit (6-10) - Tyron Smith, OT - The Lions need to protect Matt Stafford, their #1 overall pick franchise QB from suffering any more injuries. The best way to do that is by taking an elite RT to cover his blind side.
14. St. Louis (7-9) - Aldon Smith, DE - Passing on Watt and gambling with the big time play ability of Smith.
15. Miami (7-9) - Mark Ingram, RB - RB is the biggest need but I wouldn't be shocked to see the Dolphins take a QB given they have no 2nd round pick and all the other QBs are projected early 2nd round.
16. Jacksonville (8-8) - Ryan Kerrigan, DE - Jacksonville loves guys like Kerrigan and they need a better DE to combat the Manning's and Schaub's of the world, both of whom they play twice a year.
17. New England (14-2) - JJ Watt, DE - The Patriots really lacked any potency in their pass rush last year and at times were vulnerable to the run. This pick hopefully goes some way to filling the enormous hole left when they traded Richard Seymour before last season. A 5-technique DE opposite a returning Ty Warren who can also hopefully provide something of a pass rush would be huge for the Pats, and all the reports suggest Watt has a lot of versatility which Belichick should love.
18. San Diego (9-7) - Brooks Reed, LB - In classic AJ Smith fashion, the Chargers select a pass rusher when they have big question marks in other areas (OL, WR, DL).
19. NY Giants (10-6) - Akeem Ayers, LB - Keith Bullock is coming off a decent season, but he's 34 and isn't the long-term answer. Ayers could play as a 3-4 outside linebacker as he pressures the quarterback w...ell, but has the coverage skills to contribute in the 4-3. The Giants could be looking to spend a high pick on a left tackle, but after Tyron Smith was taken by the Lions, I don't think Constanzo, Sherrod, or Carimi warrants a top 20 selection.
20. Tampa Bay (10-6) - Adrian Clayborn, DE - Most mock drafts have long had Clayborn locked in to this spot, and I see no reason to disagree. They finished 31st in the league in sacks, and desperately need an edge rusher. He has Top 10 talent but has fallen because of some legal concerns, and is worth a shot this low for the Bucs.
21. Kansas City (10-6) - Phil Taylor, NT - The Chiefs 3 main concerns are WR, rush OLB and NT. With no remaining WR being worthy of this high a selection and both Brooks Reed and Akeem Ayers going in the last 3 picks, Taylor is the easy choice here. Taylor is a monster in the middle who will consistently take on multiple blocks to free up Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali as well as clog up the inside run lanes.
22. Indianapolis (10-6) - Anthony Castonzo, OT - Indy has been skimping on OL for years and with Jeff Saturday near retirement, Ryan Lilja waived and their tackles underperforming, OL is the obvious direction they will be looking to go in.
23. Philadelphia (10-6) - Gabe Carimi, OT/G - The Eagles need to fill a position of need and Carimi might be the best run blocker in this year's class. Because even with Michael Vick starting, every once in a while the Eagles might want Lesean Mccoy to run the ball.
24. New Orleans (11-5) - Muhammad Wilkerson, DE - The Saints need a lot of help along their line, the only way they got pressure last year was endless blitzes. Wilkerson should help that a lot.
25. Seattle (7-9) - Christian Ponder, QB - Matt Hasselbeck's old and unless the Seahawks think Charlie Whitehurst is the answer, they could draft a QB here. Ponder is a mobile, strong-armed athlete who could become a good NFL starter.
26. Baltimore (12-4) - Jimmy Smith, CB - Smith is the best prospect, he's 6'2", and has the advantage of learning under RayRay, Ed Reed and T-sizzle. Also, I still believes Sergio Kindle will pan out at OLB.
27. Atlanta (13-3) - Justin Houston, DE - Strong, long-armed pass rusher built similar to the guy he could eventually replace, John Abraham.
28. New England (14-2) - Nate Solder, OT - Ideally this pick would be a 3-4 OLB pass rusher, but there really don't seem to be any here that would be appropriate value. The other weakness of the Pats ...last year was the offensive line. This pick may not be an immediate need, depending on whether Matt Light comes back at LT. However, we need a long term replacement for Light and maybe something can be done where one of Light, Vollmer, or Solder swings inside to Guard for a year or two until Light retires. Solder is just ahead of Mike Pouncey at guard. (Nice prediction!)
29. Chicago (11-5) - Mike Pouncey, G - Though the Bears offensive line played as a cohesive unit after the bye week last year, it still remains the weak point on an otherwise strong team. After seeing the success of Mike's brother Maurkice as a Steelers rookie and Pro Bowl selection last year, the younger Pouncey is the pick.
30. New York Jets (11-5) (delayed) - Benjamin Ijalana, G/OT - After a phenomenal run game in 2009 they took a step back, mostly due to decreased OL play. Ijalana is a monster who's quick enough to play guard but also big enough to play RT opposite from D'Brickashaw Ferguson.
31. Pittsburgh (12-4) - Aaron Williams, CB - With explosive receivers, a franchise quarterback, and a marquee runnin...g back, Pittsburgh is not lacking on the offensive side of the ball. Though it is tempting to stockpile another player that can rush the passer, the fact remains that it is a passing league, and in the secondary, the Steelers are pedestrian. Williams should provide instant help to a secondary that could have used a lift against Aaron Rodgers in this past year's Super Bowl.
32. Green Bay (10-6) - Cameron Heyward, DE - The Packers have a tremendous front 7 are Heyward would add yet another weapon to a unit that's already a strength and already contains a Buckeye, AJ Hawk.
Round 2 - *COMPLETED*
1. New England - Danny Watkins, G - Once again, ideally there would be a rush LB of value here but I just don't see it the way this shapes up. For the record I'm 90% sure either this pick or #28 gets traded to some qb-hungry team (redskins) for a 2012 1st rounder.
2. Buffalo - Jake Locker, QB - The Bills need a QB now but since they seem to think that Ryan Fitzpatrick qualifies, they'll settle for a QB of the future. Make no mistake, Jake Locker is not ready to start in the NFL
3. Cincinnati - Andy Dalton, QB - Carson Palmer has said he will never play for the Bengals again. At the moment the Bengals seem to be hiding their head in the sand regarding this issue, but if they do decide that having a QB on their roster who's willing to play for them is something they might be interested in, Dalton would be a solid pick.
4. Denver - Corey Liuget, DT - The Broncos front seven is abysmal. Upgrades need to be made at almost every position and since they're moving to the 4-3, they need to add guys who can play in that system. Liuget only fell this far because he's a 4-3 DT in a 3-4 world, so he's great value here.
5. Cleveland - Marvin Austin, DT - The Cleveland Browns select Marvin Austin, DT from possibly the greatest athletic university the world has ever seen. The man is giant and is simply terrifying on the defensive line.
6. Arizona - Jabaal Sheard, DE - The Cardinals need someone to rush the passer, if they don't pick up Quinn or Miller in Round 1, they'll look for one later on.
7. Tennessee - Colin Kaepernick, QB - Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada has volunteered his services to the Titans. Most pundits think Ryan Mallet will be picked higher, but K...aepernick and I agree that the Titans need someone with no character issues to be their QB of the future. He'll probably sit behind Collins for a full season while he acclimates to an NFL offense.
8. Dallas - Allen Bailey, DE - The cowboys love incredible athletes and Bailey will line up on the same side of the field as Demarcus Ware, which, if he pans out, should give opposing LT's nightmares.
9. Washington - Ryan Mallet, QB - McNabb is going to be gone, and the Redskins can't go into the season with Rex Grossman and John Beck as their only QBs. And this is their last pick until the 5th round. Mallet is a douchebag, but so is Jay Cutler, and Shanahan got good production out of him. God dammit, I hate this pick but the Skins can't wait to take Andrew Luck next year.
10. Houston - Brandon Harris, CB - How does a team led by Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Andre johnson lose 8 of their last 10 games to finish 6-10? On the rare occasion that the Texans tried to stop someone, they still werent able to, because of a complete lack of talent on defense, especially in the secondary. Harris helps immediately.
11. Minnesota - Bruce Carter, LB - A pass rushing, bone crunching, ball-hawking monster.
12. Detroit - Martez Wilson, LB - Another athletic freak who can cover a lot of ground and hit you really hard.
13. San Francisco - Titus Young, WR - Playmaking WR who's moving up draft boards by the day. Michael Crabtree hasn't panned out yet and there's no promise that he ever will.
14. Denver - Stephen Paea, DT - Yes, he recently hurt his knee, but he's got lots of talent and he broke the bench press record at the combine. He's worth the risk at this point.
15. St. Louis - Torrey Smith, WR - Hopefully he turns into another Torry that STL once had...
16. Oakland - Jon Baldwin, WR - Baldwin's not flashy enough for the Raiders but if Al Davis has a heart attack and dies, the Raiders could make this pick. And they'd immediately be reinstated as an actual NFL team.
17. Jacksonville - Rahim Moore, FS - When you're in a division with Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub you need to be able to stop the pass... Jax can't so the #1 safety on the board this year should help.
18. San Diego - Derek Sherrod, OT - Sherrod won't last this long but if he does, this is an easy pick with an unsettled RT situation.
19. Tampa Bay - Davon House, CB - House is a cornerback with good height and outstanding speed (4.35 at his pro day). Ronde Barber remains a solid starting defensive back, but at 36, a replacement is needed sooner rather than later.
20. New York Giants - Mikel Leshoure, RB - Ahmad Bradshaw is a free-agent and may not be re-signed while Brandon Jacobs has had problems on and off the field. Leshoure is a powerful back..., with good speed for his big frame. He also has shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. After taking a linebacker in the first round, depth at tackle is probably a bigger need, but the Illinois back has too much value this late in the draft.
21. Indianapolis - Ras-I Dowling, CB - The Colts don't have many holes but a CB makes sense if they get an Offensive Lineman in the First Round.
22. Philadelphia - Mason Foster, LB - The Eagles need to replenish a linebacking corps that's been falling apart for a while.
23. Kansas City - Leonard Hankerson, WR - Pass rusher is a more pressing need but there's no one who deserves to be taken over Hankerson. Talent over need.
24. New Orleans - Christian Ballard, DL -The Saints need more big bodies on their defensive line, and with both these first 2 picks they address that need to the best of their ability.
25. Seattle - DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB - A quick, young player who can keep up Golden Tate on his donut runs... err... fly routes in practice.
26. Baltimore - Marcus Cannon, G - Bye-bye lazy Jared Gaither. Hello gigantic new right tackle prospect (I wouldn't list this guy as a guard). Baltimore is not shy about drafting big-frame guys who may be overweight (Mt. Cody, Ramon Harewood).
27. Atlanta - Randall Cobb, WR - With the Guard talent pool in the mid-rounds being fairly deep and no linebackers warranting selection at this point,... the Falcons will take the best player available at this point regardless of need. Even though they've worked out other quicker all-purpose players, Cobb is the most talented remaining
28. New England - Ryan Williams, RB - Once again, this would like to be a pass rushing OLB, but there aren't any appropriately valuable players who seem to fit in the rather strict mold the Pats like their 3-4 OLBs to fit into for size particularly. Instead they look to a position of some need to hopefully get the feature back Laurence Maroney never turned into.
29. San Diego - Quan Sturdivant, LB - Some people mock a CB here to replace Cromartie, but the linebacker position is such a big need for the Chargers that the most talented Inside Linebacker available needs to be taken here. That's Quan.
30. Chicago - Stefen Wisniewski, C - With Olin Kreutz in the twilight of his career, the Bears need someone that can step in for the former Pro Bowler. Wisniewski should fit the bill after more than holding his own in the rough-and-tumble Big Ten.
31. Pittsburgh - Sam Acho, LB - Acho endured a rare down year for the Longhorns in 2010, but proved throughout his career that he has the athleticism the St...eelers traditionally covet when looking for a pass rusher. Acho will bolster defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau's renowned blitz attack, while also helping to save the legs of high-motor linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.
32. Green Bay - DeMarco Murray, RB - The Packers lack of a running game nearly derailed their playoff run before it even started. Despite their eventual success, they need someone besides Ryan Grant unless they plan on having Aaron Rodgers drop back on every play of every game in 2011.
Round 3 - *COMPLETED*
1. Carolina - Kyle Rudolph, TE - Panthers will again take a ND product who has for some reason plummeted in the draft and he'll reunite with his college teammate, Jimmy Clausen, and make sweet sweet music opposite Jeremy Shockey
2. Cincinnati - Marcus Gilbert, OT - The best offensive lineman from Florida this year, Gilbert will give Andy Dalton a good protector to go along with the fantastic offense he will have after drafting AJ Green as well.
3. Denver - Chris Carter, DE - While a linebacker would be nice, the Broncos need a pass rusher opposite the constantly injured Elvis Dumerville. The Broncos defensive line will kick ass now.
4. Buffalo - Jerrel Jernigan, WR/KR
5. Arizona - James Carpenter, OT - The Cardinals have a few holes and could go with a DB, LB, or QB of the future like Andy Dalton or Ricki Stanzi here as well.
6. Cleveland - Greg Little, WR - Fantastic athlete, he'll give Colt McCoy a NFL ready target right away.
7. Dallas - Rodney Hudson, G - With the first two picks on the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys take an offensive lineman to add depth and help prevent Romo from getting hurt again.
8. New Orleans - Kelvin Sheppard, MLB - The Saints need some linebacking help and Kelvin Sheppard seems to be the best option left at this point to provide that.
9. Houston - Jarvis Jenkins, DE/DT - If the Texans use every pick they have this season on a DB or DL it won't be enough.
10. New England - Greg Romeus, DE - This pick is actually a projection for the pass rush OLB the Patriots need so badly. Belichick has a history of taking shots on players who slip because of missing the previous year due to injury like Romeus. He has the prototypical size the Patriots seem fixated on in their OLBs.
11. Detroit - Curtis Brown, CB - Alphonso Smith played possibly the worst game of any player in the NFL all season against the Patriots on Thanksgiving, highlighted by this embarassment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_WdxUWX760 They need another corner.
12. San Francisco - Shareece Wright, CB - Nate Clements is getting older and the Niners don't have much else at corner anyway. Value pick.
13. Tennessee - Edmund Gates, WR - Gates somehow was not taken by the Raiders despite his off the charts speed.
14. St. Louis - Orlando Franklin, T - After taking a QB with the #1 pick, it's never a bad idea to protect him. Hey Detroit, Matt Stafford hopes you're reading this.
15. Miami - Ricky Stanzi, QB - The Dolphins taking a QB in the 2nd-3rd round is the new "Lions draft a WR with a top 10 pick" running draft joke.
16. Jacksonville - Tanden Doss, WR - Doss has terrific hands, making him the ultimate possession receiver. The second coming of Keenan McCardell? David Garrard, cross your fingers!
17. Oakland - Johnny Patrick, CB - No more Nnamdi.
18. San Diego - DeAndre Mcdaniel, S - They have other needs but no one worth taking at this juncture is available. Plus San Diego has the habit of taking athletic secondary guys who never really pan out so they'd possibly take a little bit of a reach here to lock up the best Safety left.
19. New York Giants - Will Rackley, G/T - The left side of the Giants' offensive line is in need of an upgrade, and Rackley should provide depth at both the tackle and guard spots. There are concerns about a small school product adjusting to the NFL, but Rackley has the size and athleticism to contribute.
20. Tampa Bay - Taiwan Jones, RB - Another defensive end, an outside linebacker, and tackle are more pressing needs, but there is little value at those positions remaining, so the Bu...cs opt for a third down running back to complement LaGarrette Blount. Jones ran a sub 4.3 40 at his pro day and impressed in other drills as well. He is too slight to carry the load for an offense, but should be able to make some plays from the backfield. Think of him as a poor man's Jahvid Best.
21. Philadelphia - Joe Lefeged, S - Joe Lefeged, Rutgers University (via Northwest High School...where he was like 2 years behind me... GO JAGS)
22. Kansas City - James Brewer, OT - Brewer is 6'6", can play either tackle spot and KC is thrilled to have such a good prospect to fall to them after passing on OL in the first two rounds.
23. Indianapolis - Clint Boling, G - As mentioned earlier, the Colts have been skimping on the OL for years and need to get some protection for Manning.
24. New Orleans - Jah Reid, OT - The Saints have had some offensive line issues and questions, this should shore it up somewhat and provide hopefully a future starter.
25. San Diego - Greg Salas, WR - San Diego has been hurting at WR ever since Vincent Jackson decided not to show up for much of the season last year. His future with the team is still uncertain and other than Malcolm Floyd, the Chargers have no impact WR's to catch Philip Rivers' passes, Salas could start right away if Jackson isn't in the picture.
26. Baltimore - Niles Paul, WR - Ravens have to get a WR to stretch field. Niles is strong and fast, can stretch the field, and has good (but small) hands. Will complement more polished route runners in boldin and mason.
27. Atlanta - Kendall Hunter, RB - Need a RB to take the load off Turner.
28. New England - Jeremy Beal, OLB - The Pats really need to pick up a pass rush. Maybe 2 shots at it will give it to them finally.
29. Chicago - Marcus Gilchrist, CB - Gilchrist will add depth to a secondary that has been susceptible to injury in recent years, and the Bears will need help in shutting down divisional weapons such as Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson.
30. New York Jets - Jurell Casey, DT - Jets will be taking Casey to stay young in the middle of the DL. He isn't just a run blocker, he's expected to get in the backfield and further improve the Jets pass rush.
31. Pittsburgh - John Moffitt, G - Pittsburgh realizes that its success is largely reliant on the health of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and the beating he has taken in recent years is troubling. Moffitt's time in Bret Bielema's bruising power running system will undoubtedly help him open holes for Rashard Mendenhall, too.
32. Green Bay - Greg Jones, LB - One of the few highly rated OLB's who's more of a run stopping/coverage type as opposed to a pass rusher. The Packers could use him to stop Peterson/Matt Forte
33. Carolina - Chimdi Chewka, CB - This will help add depth to a CB core that could be taken apart with FA and could help with kick/punt return duties. How he got past Al Davis is beyond me, he ran a sub 4.4 at the combine, and he has a strange name that would be the perfect replacement for Nnamdi
Currently taken teams as of March 24th:
Chiefs+Cowboys - Alex Basista
Patriots+Saints - Will Harvey
Panthers+Bengals - Anirudh Pratap
Jets+Jaguars - Jon Reynolds
Seahawks+Cardinals - Cody Johnson
Eagles+Lions - Dan Trojak
Ravens+Dolphins - Aaron Mercurio
Bears+Steelers - Terrance Jordan
Rams - Justin Hernandez
49ers+Bills - Bryan Schlieper
Titans+Texans - Andy Duvall
Broncos+Redskins - Omeed Ilchi
Chargers+Falcons - Dave West
Packers+Vikings - Paul Burke
Bucs+Giants - Doug Perry
Colts+Raiders - Brian Westneat
Browns - Andy Veasey