2011 NFL mock draft 1.0 (Picks 1-8)

1. Carolina Panthers: Nick Fairley, Jr. DT, Auburn

Fairley dominated the National Championship and clearly is the best prospect at a position of need for Carolina. He should be a dominant three technique, and along with Charles Johnson, Jon Beason, and James Anderson, will lay the foundation for a very good, athletic, and young defensive unit.

2. Denver Broncos: Patrick Peterson, Jr. CB, LSU

Denver will be hoping for Nick Fairley, and may give up Kyle Orton to trade up to the top spot to get him, especially if a rookie pay scale is implemented. However, Patrick Peterson is one helluva consolation prize. Denver will more than likely allow Champ Bailey to walk, and will desperately need to inject some youth into their secondary.

3. Buffalo Bills: Da’Quan Bowers, Jr. OLB, Clemson

Bowers is not an ideal fit for Buffalo’s scheme, but the Bills desperately need help in their front seven. Robert Quinn and Marcell Dareus are possibilities, but Bowers is an elite athlete who produced at a high level this past season who has the speed and agility to play standing up and the bulk to improve a dreadful run defense.

4. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, Jr. WR, Georgia

The Bengals clearly have their sights set on A.J. Green as their good receivers are too old and their young receivers are too inconsistent. They need a real weapon to team with Cedric Benson and Jermaine Gresham to retool their offensive attack. Green is a true gamebreaker who can open things up for everybody around him.

5. Arizona Cardinals: Prince Amukamara, Sr. CB, Nebraska

Arizona could opt for Blaine Gabbert, but they have enough young quarterbacks who they like (John Skelton, Max Hall). Robert Quinn is also an option, but teams will shy away from drafting a player who sat out his last season in the top 5. Prince Amukamara will team with Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie to form a potentially rare elite cornerback duo which every team wished they had.

6. Cleveland Browns: Marcell Dareus, Jr. DE, Alabama

Cleveland likes Colt McCoy, and I would give him Julio Jones. However, Jones is not really a west coast style receiver, and the Browns have serious issues along their defensive line. Marcell Dareus should be a very effective player from day one in Cleveland at defensive end and is really a safe selection.

7. San Francisco 49ers: Blaine Gabbert, Jr. QB, Missouri

San Francisco feels like they are a coach and a quarterback away from the playoffs. Jim Harbaugh is now in place, and I expect them to try to hammer out a deal for Kevin Kolb or Kyle Orton. If they can’t, they will probably look to draft Blaine Gabbert, the consensus top quarterback available.

8. Tennessee Titans: Robert Quinn, Jr. DE, North Carolina

Tennessee really needs a quarterback and secondary help, but unless they fall in love with Cam Newton, they appear to be out of luck. They fall in love with workout warriors, and will be enamored with Quinn’s fluid play and the way he oozes athleticism. Defensive end is always a position where you can never have enough good players, so this may not end up being a bad selection for the Titans, although I’m sure they’d rather trade down (potentially with Philly and pick up Kevin Kolb in the process).

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