Don't like the Clayborn pick but would be please with Murray and Jernigan.
Originally Published: April 6, 2011
2011 NFL Mock Draft 4.0Three full rounds of projected picks show how teams could flesh out their draft boardsEmail Print Comments30 By Mel Kiper
There's no way around it -- the 2011 NFL draft is one of the more unpredictable we've ever seen. Sure, it started with a likely No. 1 pick deciding to stay in school, but there are other things that have compounded the issue. With the labor agreement nowhere in site, the question of how draft picks will be compensated -- which obviously plays into the trade value of the picks -- is still clouding the proceedings. There is also just a vast array of needs among teams drafting high, and rising and falling stocks among players we presume will be drafted high. It's all causing a lot of confusion.
The tape is always just one side to the story. As GMs, scouts and team personnel form their draft boards, I hear a wide range of opinions around the league. The questions are endless. But that doesn't mean we can't make a deep dive into the early rounds. Here is the first shot at a three-round mock draft. As always, an asterisk denotes non-seniors.
Carolina PanthersRecord: 2-14
* Cam Newton, QB, AuburnThere are immediate needs, and there is a decision that you believe will change the direction of your franchise for years to come. While I don't believe Carolina is locked onto this pick -- if you're heard me at all lately, you'll know I see this is one of the more unpredictable top 10's I can ever remember -- if they really see Newton as the transformative player that can be both a Pro Bowl quarterback and face of the franchise who draws a lot of buzz, they can make this pick. If talent alone was all they were concerned with, Newton would be an easy choice. But this pick also requires a belief in his development and maturity. Certainly, however, Newton's potential is significant.
Denver BroncosRecord: 4-12
* Marcell Dareus, DT, AlabamaThere are several guys Denver could take here to bolster their defense, but Dareus makes a lot of sense. A scheme-versatile player who can be a disruptive, penetrating force as an interior lineman, or a fantastic pass-rusher as a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme, Dareus is a safe pick. He doesn't have remarkable quickness, but his agility and versatility at a full 319 pounds is the stuff of an elite lineman. Denver could also consider a corner or linebacker here, but Dareus fills a significant, immediate need.
Buffalo BillsRecord: 4-12
Von Miller, LB, Texas A&MFew have seen their stock rise as much as Miller has since the season wrapped up. The pass-rush skills were there, as was a developed ability to drop and make reads. The tape shows a guy who can do anything on the football field, and do it explosively. Miller offers immediate help at one of the top two positions of need for the Bills. They simply can't get enough value here in drafting an offensive lineman, and Miller will impact games next year more than any rookie in the draft if you asked me today.
Cincinnati BengalsRecord: 4-12
* A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Cincinnati is still dealing with a headache at the quarterback situation, but whether their answer is to trade Carson Palmer away, woo him back, or perhaps try to import the likes of Kevin Kolb, Matt Hasselbeck, Donovan McNabb or someone else, they'll need to help whoever will be throwing the ball in 2011 and beyond. By drafting the best pure pass-catching talent in the draft, they can accomplish that. Green is an immediate starter and the rare big-time, physical, fast receiver who has the route-running skills and understanding to match his skill-set.
Arizona CardinalsRecord: 5-11
* Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
I could also see Arizona getting creative and looking for a veteran arm such as Kolb, but Gabbert is the quarterback in the draft most likely to help a team soonest, and if he's available here, it might be tough for Arizona to pass on him. He offers elite size, accuracy, athleticism and the smarts to pick things up quickly at the NFL level. This is a pick I could see going in several directions, but if Arizona isn't confident they can get a suitable veteran fix in at quarterback, Gabbert is a good choice.
Cleveland BrownsRecord: 5-11
* Julio Jones, WR, AlabamaThere are a lot of Browns fans probably hoping that Green falls to this spot, but if Jones is the one available, he's an outstanding consolation prize. His size and speed combination is the best in the draft at the position, and his development as a wideout over the past year shows a determination and work ethic that will be loved by the coaching staff. The Browns need a true No. 1 at wide receiver, and if healthy, Jones can be that guy. A gifted athlete, he blocks as hard as he runs routes. Great when healthy, still really good when battling through pain.
San Francisco 49ersRecord: 6-10
* Patrick Peterson, CB, LSUI picked Peterson to fall to this point in my previous mock draft, and I still do. And consider the history of top athletes falling: In 1987, I had Rod Woodson rated similarly, and he fell to No. 10 overall. In 1989, Deion Sanders was far and away the best athlete on the board, yet he fell to No. 5. I had Champ Bailey as the best athlete and the top corner available in the 1999 draft, yet he fell to No. 7. In Peterson, you get safety size, the best overall athlete in the draft, a dangerous returner and, ultimately, a starter and potential impact player from Day 1.
Tennessee TitansRecord: 6-10
* Nick Fairley, DT, AuburnDefensive line probably falls lower on the list of team needs behind the obvious question of who will be taking snaps, but it's not a minor need. And to get the most productive interior lineman in the college game last year, a player who was simply unblockable in a number of key games, is a solid get for the Titans at No. 8 overall. Fairley gives you immediate help at a spot they need to address, and he offers the value of a top-five pick. Disruptive versus both the run and the pass, he will help this defense now, and they can look for a linebacker later on.
Dallas CowboysRecord: 6-10
* Tyron Smith, OT, USCA number of times this year, I've noted how Dallas might look to trade down. After all, picking in the top 10 of this draft wasn't likely to allow them to get full value if they targeted an offensive tackle, something many wish Jerry Jones would have done in 2010. Well, in Smith, they have the option of taking a player who projects as a future blindside tackle, and he's in a perfect spot in terms of value, having risen all the way to No. 9 on the Big Board. It's a need pick, and a player who could help Dallas in short order.
Washington RedskinsRecord: 6-10
* J.J. Watt, DE, WisconsinWashington has serious needs on the offensive side of the ball, but if Gabbert and Newton are gone, and Green and Jones too, they should address another need or look to trade down. One pressing need on the other side of the ball is at defensive end, and Watt has a chance to be a tremendous player at that position. A high-energy guy capable of diagnosing plays, contributing in various schemes, and holding up well against the run while getting after quarterbacks in the pass game, he's the kind of low-risk pick that makes sense for the Skins.
Houston TexansRecord: 6-10
* Robert Quinn, LB, North CarolinaHouston has needs all over the defensive side of the ball, and Quinn is the best player still on the board if they can get him here. A gifted natual pass-rusher, Quinn sat out all of 2010, but his talent should overcome any questions about rust. A physical specimen, Wade Phillips can find a way to use Quinn in his scheme, and DeMarcus Ware will be what he has in mind when he gets Quinn into camp. Yes, the secondary needs help, but the fastest way to make that group look better is get a pass rush.
* Da'Quan Bowers, DE, ClemsonBowers has seen his stock take a slight hit in the past few weeks as he faces questions about just how healthy his knee is coming off surgery for a torn meniscus. That said, the Viking should be giddy to get a pass-rushing talent like Bowers at No. 12. Once the No. 1 player in the country coming out of high school, many believe Bowers has the skill-set of a No. 1 overall NFL draft pick. While he won't be this year, he's a great pass-rusher and can give the Vikings an upgrade on the edge. With time to fully recuperate from a minor injury, his future is bright.
Detroit LionsRecord: 6-10
Prince Amukamara, CB, NebraskaThere may be questions about how perfectly Amukamara fits Detroit's scheme, but it's hard to believe they'd pass up perhaps the best pure cover corner in the draft at this position. The Lions are desparate for an upgrade at the cornerback position, and Amukamara is capable of contributing very early. Great awareness, instincts, ball skills and underrated speed. He also has better-than-average size for the position.
St. Louis RamsRecord: 7-9
* Corey Liuget, DT, IllinoisA selection I'm sticking with from the previous mock, Liuget is a relentless player who displays leverage, power and the ability to locate the ball well against both the rush and the pass. He fills an immediate need at defensive tackle. I said before that if a receiver were to fall to this position, I think St. Louis would jump, but their position of biggest need doesn't offer a sensible value matchup right here. I also can see the Rams going for an outside linebacker at this spot. If they're that intent on a pass-catcher with their first pick, the Rams could also move off this spot.
Miami DolphinsRecord: 7-9
* Mark Ingram, RB, AlabamaSticking with this angle from the previous mocks, Miami goes with the top back on the board. Ingram didn't drop among evaluators even without a good 40 at the combine, because he was never expected to shine in that area. Ingram is a producer. The most complete back in this class, he has great balance, runs with great pad level, balance and leverage, and explodes from contact. Once he gets through the initial hole, he's a terror on the second level. A good fit here.
Jacksonville JaguarsRecord: 8-8
* Aldon Smith, DE, MissouriAnother guy I'm sticking with from the previous mock, Smith offers a raw talent package with a lot of upside. He's a player who could easily have been a top-10 pick in 2012 had he stuck around Missouri for another year of development. The Jags went for veterans to spackle over the holes at defensive end last year, but it's time to develop some edge talent to go with what is a really promising defensive interior. Smith is an ideal developmental option who can still help in 2011.
New England Patriots (from Oakland)Record: 14-2
Cameron Jordan, DE, CalI have 3-4 defensive end among the top three needs for the Patriots, and Jordan offers the best value available at this position. Considering how many early picks they have, the Pats can make their picks in a different order: Considering a wide variety of needs, lining those up against the best available players on the board, and trying to maximize every pick. Jordan maximizes this one as a player who fits their system, has the smarts and experience to pick it up quickly, and offers pass-rushing help.
San Diego ChargersRecord: 9-7
* Muhammad Wilkerson, DL, TempleThe No. 10 overall player on my Big Board over the past couple weeks, Wilkerson fits what the Chargers are looking for, as a defensive tackle who could line up as a 3-4 defensive end. I really thought Wilkerson could be a top-10 pick if he stuck around Temple for another year, but he was dominant enough in 2010 that he may have felt there was little left to prove. He can anchor, but Wilkerson is a guy who loves to pursue, and can cause problems for quarterbacks as a penetrator.
New York GiantsRecord: 10-6
Mike Pouncey, OL, FloridaI don't think Pouncey is quite as versatile as his brother, who was taken at No. 18 overall last year and became a Pro Bowl player in his first year with the Steelers. But Mike offers a very similar skill set. He can play guard or center, gets to the second level very well and should help the Giants in the running game. I'd slot him in at guard to start and only look for help at center in a backup role, but he's easily the top interior lineman in the draft.
Tampa Bay BuccaneersRecord: 10-6
Ryan Kerrigan, DE, PurdueTampa has its solution on the interior, having taken defensive tackles with picks in Rounds 1 and 2 last year, and now it's time to find pass-rush help from the edge. Kerrigan may be a little light to start immediately as an every down 4-3 defensive end. But while offering top-flight pass-rush skills -- he was completely unblockable while leading the country in TFL last year -- Kerrigan is no pushover against the run either. The Bucs need to find a way to get to opposing passers, and Kerrigan can be a big part of the answer. Given recent personnel issues at corner, a reach at that position also isn't out of question.
Kansas City ChiefsRecord: 10-6
* Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLAAyers surprised a lot of people with some mediocre workouts at the combine, given his reputation for athleticism, but he bounced back at his pro day. And as I've said before, the tape doesn't lie. This is a guy with the range of skills to help a team early. A good fit on the edge in the Chiefs' system, Ayers fills an obvious need at outside linebacker in the 3-4 and isn't just a pass-rusher. More in the Mike Vrabel mold, he can cover, rush and tackle well against the run.
Indianapolis ColtsRecord: 10-6
Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston CollegeOne more that stays the same from previous mocks, I just really like the fit. The Colts have to improve on the offensive line and even while Peyton Manning is a maestro working out of the shotgun, they need to be able to do more both in the run game and in pass protection. Castonzo is a smart, versatile tackle who has been consistently rated as a first-round tackle option. Indy has brought in some quarterbacks to work out, but Castonzo is more of an immediate help.
Philadelphia EaglesRecord: 10-6
Gabe Carimi, OT, WisconsinI have offensive tackle as the top need for a team that has to make sure they don't take the athleticism of their starting quarterback for granted. In Carimi they get a guy who loves to run block and will sustain those blocks. But he can also take on great pass-rushers, and has shown enough that it figures he could fill in at either tackle position early, potentially starting on the right side with the goal to become a starting left tackle.
New Orleans SaintsRecord: 11-5
Phil Taylor, DT, BaylorTaylor is a real load, and the best pure anchor tackle on the board. Listed at 334 pounds, Taylor probably played closer to 350 during an impressive final season at Baylor. You can stack blockers on him, but Taylor won't give ground, and will free up linebackers to make more plays in the running game. The Saints can't go wrong if they get a really good defensive tackle or defensive end with this pick.
Jake LockerRecord: 7-9
Jake Locker, QB, WashingtonLocker has worked hard to help scouts forget about a bad season of tape, and did enough at his recent pro day to get more positive vibes attached to his stock among evaluators. As we've said before, Locker has a big-time arm, a great attitude, elite athleticism for the position, but has unfortunately lacked accuracy, the one trait most of us believe is the most innate. But I wouldn't put it past him to improve that, given the kind of kid he is, and his range of talent. This isn't an endorsement of Locker as a guy who should step in and start for the Seahawks if Matt Hasselbeck isn't back in 2011, but even if Seattle makes a move for a short-term answer at quarterback, Locker could be hard to pass up if Pete Carroll thinks he's a solution for the long run.
Baltimore RavensRecord: 12-4
* Jimmy Smith, CB, ColoradoAnother pick who sticks. The Ravens didn't take a cornerback with any of their picks in 2010 and Smith has proven that he has all the physical tools to back up solid tape. With the Ravens' leadership on defense in the form of Ray Lewis still in place, Smith has a chance to be a steal if he takes direction from the vets. A burner with shut-down skills, good ball awareness and elite size for the position, he adds immediate depth with the chance to start early.
Atlanta FalconsRecord: 13-3
Adrian Clayborn, DE, IowaThe Falcons are a solid team without a true glaring need, but a 4-3 defensive end with the ability to rush the passer and great awareness and discipline against the run can help them in 2011. That's Clayborn in a nutshell. His coaches rave, as do players that have had to face him. He has good size, a reputation for relentlessness and the respect of his peers. Atlanta could look for a wideout to diversify an attack that went too often in one direction last year, but Clayborn is the better value here.
New England PatriotsRecord: 14-2
* Justin Houston, LB, GeorgiaHouston is an interesting player. He shows a lot of natural pass-rush skills as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but a lot of people see him as a player capable of growing into the 4-3 defensive end position. I prefer him at the former, and see him as a great fit in Bill Belichick's system. Starting as a pass-rush specialist, Houston should be able to develop into an every-down player. A lot of natural ability here; Houston is another guy who would probably go in the top 10 had he waited a year, making him a potential steal at this point.
Chicago BearsRecord: 11-5
Nate Solder, OT, ColoradoI've said before that Chicago should be thrilled if Solder is available here. He has added bulk to a 6-foot-8 frame, making him a guy who could help in a run game that really fell off in 2010. All the questions about his toughness aside, Chicago let Jay Cutler take far too many hits over the past two seasons. Mike Martz will run the ball if he can block for it. Solder has the frame to become a bulldozer, and the athleticism to move along the line and help on either side.
New York JetsRecord: 11-5
Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio St.We've discussed the possibility of taking a safety at this spot, but I don't think the Jets would be wise to neglect early talent at a position they really need to address. Heyward is a player that holds up against the run, has shown a decent repertoire of pass-rush skills, and can play through pain. Rex Ryan needs to infuse some talent to his defensive front, because he has to blitz to get any pressure on opposing quarterbacks at this point, and you never want that to be the case.
Pittsburgh SteelersRecord: 12-4
* Aaron Williams, CB, TexasWilliams is the classic young, talented risk-taker at the cornerback position. He has a a lot of natural ability, likes to steal a look into the backfield and turn errant passes into six points going the other way. While some see him ultimately becoming a great cover safety, I'm not ready to push him off the the edge. Dick LeBeau was a great cornerback, and would do well working with a talen like Williams.
Green Bay PackersRecord: 10-6
Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi St.Green Bay could also go with an outside linebacker here to take some pressure off Clay Matthews Jr., but I've waffled on this pick and tend to think that if they believe they can get a player they can develop into the long range answer on the blindside, it'd be really hard to pass up. Sherrod has been a consistent player, and could be the answer to replace Chad Clifton. When you have a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, you're going to win a lot of games. Priority No. 1 has to be to keep him upright.
A pick-by-pick projection of Round 2 selections in the 2011 NFL draft.
Pick Team Player Position School
33. New England (from Car.) Danny Watkins OG Baylor
34. Buffalo Martez Wilson LB Illinois
35. Cincinnati Andy Dalton QB TCU
36. Denver Rahim Moore S UCLA
37. Cleveland Jabaal Sheard DE Pittsburgh
38. Arizona Brooks Reed LB Arizona
39. Tennessee Ryan Mallett QB Arkansas
40. Dallas Brandon Harris CB Miami (Fla)
41. Washington Christian Ponder QB Florida St.
42. Houston Curtis Brown CB Texas
43. Minnesota Stephen Paea DT Oregon St.
44. Detroit Bruce Carter LB North Carolina
45. San Francisco Dontay Moch LB Nevada
46. Denver (from Miami) Kyle Rudolph TE Notre Dame
47. St. Louis Leonard Hankerson WR Miami (Fla)
48. Oakland Clint Boling OL Georgia
49. Jacksonville Torrey Smith WR Maryland
50. San Diego Randall Cobb WR Kentucky
51. Tampa Bay Jah Reid OT Central Florida
52. New York Giants Quan Sturdivant LB North Carolina
53. Indianapolis Mikel Leshoure RB Illinois
54. Philadelphia Brandon Burton CB Utah
55. Kansas City Orlando Franklin OL Miami (Fla)
56. New Orleans Rodney Hudson OL Florida St.
57. Seattle DeMarcus Van Dyke CB Miami (Fla)
58. Baltimore Titus Young WR Boise St.
59. Atlanta Jerrel Jernigan WR Troy
60. New England Daniel Thomas RB Kansas St.
61. San Diego (from NY Jets) Ras-I Dowling CB Virginia
62. Chicago Marvin Austin DT North Carolina
63. Pittsburgh Ben Ijalana OT Villanova
64. Green Bay Tandon Doss WR Indiana
A pick-by-pick projection of Round 3 selections in the 2011 NFL draft.
Pick Team Player Position School
65. Carolina Allen Bailey DL Miami (Fla)
66. Cincinnati Ryan Williams RB Virginia Tech
67. Denver Christian Ballard DL Iowa
68. Buffalo Lance Kendricks TE Wisconsin
69. Arizona James Carpenter OT Alabama
70. Cleveland Jarvis Jenkins DT Clemson
71. Dallas Da'Norris Searcy S North Carolina
72. New Orleans (from Wash) Chris Carter LB Fresno St.
73. Houston Kendric Burney CB North Carolina
74. New England (from Minn) Jon Baldwin WR Pittsburgh
75. Detroit Marcus Gilbert OT Florida
76. San Francisco Colin Kaepernick QB Nevada
77. Tennessee John Moffitt OG Wisconsin
78. St. Louis Alex Green RB Hawaii
79. Miami Edmond Gates WR Abilene Christian
80. Jacksonville Quinton Carter S Oklahoma
81. Oakland Chimdi Chekwa CB Ohio St.
82. San Diego Marcus Cannon OT TCU
83. New York Giants Terrell McClain DT South Florida
84. Tampa Bay Colin McCarthy LB Miami (Fla)
85. Philadelphia Ross Homan LB Ohio St.
86. Kansas City Greg Salas WR Hawaii
87. Indianapolis Drake Nevis DT LSU
88. New Orleans Kendall Hunter RB Oklahoma St.
89. San Diego (from Seattle) Akeem Dent LB Georgia
90. Baltimore Will Rackley OL Lehigh
91. Atlanta DeMarco Murray RB Oklahoma
92. New England Marcus Gilchrist DB Clemson
93. Chicago Stefen Wisniewski OL Penn St.
94. New York Jets Greg Little WR North Carolina
95. Pittsburgh Austin Pettis WR Boise St.
96. Green Bay Cortez Allen CB The Citadel
97. Carolina (comp selection) Kenrick Ellis DT Hampton
Sometimes running the Mularkey offense makes me feel like I'm in a prison.