Final 2011 NFL Mock Draft

1. Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton, QB, Auburn: The one player Carolina believes can turn the franchise around.

2. Denver Broncos – Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama: A “safe” pick that John Fox can build around as he takes over a monumentally porous defense.

3. Buffalo Bills – Von Miller, OLB, Texas AM: A dynamic pass rusher who is headed for NFL stardom.

4. Cincinnati Bengals – A.J. Green, WR, Georgia: A much-needed playmaker for an offense that Mike Brown still believes will be led by Carson Palmer.

5. Arizona Cardinals – Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU: With several talented, young passers already on the roster, look for Arizona to take a player they can immediately plug in. Patrick Peterson would give them a rock solid secondary, complementing Adrian Wilson and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

6. Cleveland Browns – Julio Jones, WR, Alabama: Colt McCoy needs a legitimate target in the passing game, and Jones should be a phenomenal west coast receiver. The Browns can target a defensive lineman in the second round.

7. San Francisco 49ers – Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri: The 49ers need to find a franchise quarterback, and Gabbert may be able to vault them to the top of the weak NFC West.

8. Tennessee Titans – Andy Dalton, QB, TCU: Reportedly, this pick is down to Nick Fairley and Andy Dalton. As quarterback is a huge need and Mike Munchak is an offensive coach, I’ll give Dalton the nod here in a shocker.

9. Dallas Cowboys – Tyron Smith, OT, USC: The Cowboys love some of the offensive tackles in this draft, and they desperately need somebody to replace Marc Colombo at right tackle.

10. Washington Redskins – Jake Locker, QB, Washington: The Redskins have only Rex Grossman at quarterback, and they love Jake Locker’s leadership and ability to throw on the run. Defensive needs can wait. All indications are that quarterbacks will be severely overdrafted in 2011.

11. Houston Texans – Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska: Everybody knows how bad the Houston secondary was in 2010, and they are lucky to have such a highly regarded cornerback prospect still available.

12. Minnesota Vikings – Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College: Bryant McKinnie severely regressed in 2010, and he may be replaced here as Leslie Frazier will have to try to rebuild his offense.

13. Detroit Lions – Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina: Quinn free-falls here due to the four quarterbacks taken in the top ten, and can bring fresh blood to a thin group of 7-techniques in Detroit.

14. St. Louis Rams – Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn: A rare talent who falls due to maturity issues will be happily scooped up by Steve Spagnuolo, who loves defensive linemen and needs to surround Chris Long with talent.

15. Miami Dolphins – Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida: A rising prospect who will likely wind up going in the top 20. He will help the ‘Phins rebuild a once dominant offensive line.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars – Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue: After missing on lots of risk/reward defensive line prospects, Jacksonville finally struck gold with Tyson Alualu, a high-motor overachiever. Following that blueprint with Ryan Kerrigan may reverse the fortunes of the Jacksonville defense.

17. New England Patriots – Cameron Jordan, DE, California: With the best offensive line prospects off the board, New England will look to help out Vince Wilfork with another tough defensive lineman in Cameron Jordan, who has experience playing in a 3-4 from Cal.

18. San Diego Chargers – J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin: A huge steal who can fill a big need for the Chargers.

19. New York Giants – Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois: With Barry Cofield potentially leaving as a free agent, the Giants have another excuse to draft a defensive lineman in the first round.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri: Another defensive lineman who slips down the draft board falls into the lap of the team that quite possibly is the most desperate for an athletic impact edge rusher.

21. Kansas City Chiefs: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: The Chiefs need to shore up their offensive line, but I also strongly considered Brooks Reed and Phil Taylor for this pick.

22. Indianapolis Colts: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin: The Colts lost their legendary offensive line coach, so they may actually have to rely on talent to protect Peyton Manning. Gabe Carimi should be a solid tackle for the rest of the Peyton era and beyond.

23. Philadelphia Eagles: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: The Eagles are very interested in Jimmy Smith, and they are reportedly warming up to his character issues. He is supremely talented and fills the team’s biggest need.

24. New Orleans Saints: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson: The Saints are one team that can afford to roll the dice on a player like Bowers, who fits the Saint scheme perfectly. He reminds me a lot of Will Smith.

25. Seattle Seahawks: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa: Clayborn is probably the best available talent, and Seattle has a bunch of question marks at defensive end, although they could go in any number of direction with this pick, including quarterback.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Brooks Reed, OLB, Arizona: Baltimore needs somebody besides Terrell Suggs to be able to get to the quarterback. Reed is considered in some circles to be a potential Clay Matthews 2.0.

27. Atlanta Falcons: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA: The Falcons feel that they are still a piece or two away from being a Super Bowl caliber defense. They love the versatility and athleticism that Ayers brings to the table.

28. New England Patriots: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State: The more I hear, the more it looks like the Patriots are growing very concerned about their offensive line. Sherrod could be a decent option at right tackle is Sebastian Vollmer gets moved to left tackle.

29. New York Jets: Marvin Austin, DE, North Carolina: A supremely talented defensive lineman who will be a great fit as a member of Gang Green.

30. Chicago Bears: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami: An aggressive, confident, physical player who is an ideal fit in Chicago’s Tampa 2 system. He would fight Zack Bowman and Tim Jennings for the right cornerback job, and add to the overall depth at defensive back, which was a big problem against Green Bay for the Bears.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas: A natural fit for the Steelers, a team desperate for help at cornerback.

32. Green Bay Packers: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State: With Cullen Jenkins as good as gone, the Packers need help at defensive end, and Cameron Heyward embodies the tough, midwestern profile the Packers want in the trenches.

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