2011 NFL Mock Draft

191543.jpg 2011 NFL Mock Draft

By James Christensen

Here's the latest in a series of mock drafts put together by

1. Carolina Panthers - AJ Green (WR, Georgia)
Green represents perhaps the safest pick in the draft, while also filling a need. Surrounding Jimmy Clausen with some legitimate talent might enhance his progression. If it doesn't, AJ Green would be one more weapon for Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley in 2012.

2. Denver Broncos - Marcell Dareus (DL, Alabama)
The Broncos defense was abysmal in 2010,necessitatingan upgrade on the defensive line. Dareus is scheme-diverse, consistent, and incredibly talented. He should be a starter for 10 years.

3. Buffalo Bills - Patrick Peterson (CB, LSU)
It's tough to tell what a team with as many needs as the Bills have is going to do. Peterson is arguably the top overall prospect in the draft at a position that would certainly help the Bills try and beat the Patriots for the first time in nearly a decade.

4. Cincinnati Bengals - Blaine Gabbert (QB, Missouri)
If the Bengals believe Carson Palmer's threats, they have to secure a quarterback of the future. Gabbert has an NFL ready arm and the escapability that he would need as a first year starter.

5. Arizona Cardinals - Von Miller (OLB, Texas A&M)
It's no secret that we don't value Miller as high as other NFL Draft writers. That said, some team in the Top-10 is going to fall in love with his athleticism and intangibles, regardless of how well he takes on blocks.

6. Cleveland Browns - Nick Fairley (DL, Auburn)
Fairley is a dominant force inside. If you watched his film and looked at nothing else, he would easily be a Top-5 pick, but character concerns are nothing to discount in today's NFL.

7. San Francisco 49ers - Aldon Smith (DE, Missouri)
Smith will be a dominant pass-rushing force before the end of his second season, if not earlier. He has rare length and burst off the ball - two traits that will lead to a bunch of sacks.

8. Tennessee Titans - Cam Newton (QB, Auburn)
Owner Bud Adams just can't help himself with talents like Newton. A truly dynamic player, Newton is easily our biggest boombust prospect at the QB position.
9. Dallas Cowboys - Tyron Smith (OT, USC)
If Patrick Peterson isn't available, and we can't imagine that he will be, this dancing bear should be the pick. We don't buy the Mike Pouncey talk for a minute.
10. Washington Redskins - Julio Jones (WR, Alabama)
If they can't move this pick and Mike Shanahan isn't in love with a signal-caller, Jones will be the pick. He is such a physical receiver - he will have no problems getting open in the NFL.
11. Houston Texans - Robert Quinn (DE, North Carolina)
Subtract a party invitation and some jewelry from Quinn's career and you have a Top-3 talent. He may fit better as a 4-3 DE, but that won't stop Wade Phillips from trying to make him into the next DeMarcus Ware.
12. Minnesota Vikings - Da'Quan Bowers (DE, Clemson)
At this point, the Vikings will take a chance on Bowers' knee and hope he doesn't end up like Kenechi Udeze or Erasmus James. Bowers was an absolute force during the 2010 NCAA season.
13. Detroit Lions - Muhammad Wilkerson (DL, Temple)
Cornerback is the easy choice here, but Jim Schwartz being a Belichick disciple will certainly value what a dominant front-seven can do. Wilkerson and Suh would be a scary sight for the next decade.
14. St. Louis Rams - Cameron Jordan (DE, California)
With both of the top receivers off the board, the Rams draft the best defensive player available. Jordan uses his big mitts to ward off blockers and can help an improving Rams defense take the next step.
15. Miami Dolphins - Ryan Mallett (QB, Arkansas)
Big-armed quarterback with potential character issues... sound familiar? We offer no warranty with this pick, but it sure worked out when the Dolphins drafted Dan Marino.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars - J.J. Watt (DE, Wisconsin)
Watt would bring the toughness, motor, and ability to the Jags front seven that they have desperately tried to acquire over the last half-decade. Watt is an absolute warrior that can help any team - both on the field and in the locker room.
17. New England Patriots - Prince Amukamara (CB, Nebraska)
Amukamara can play corner and safety - and Coach Belichick has let it be known that you can't have enough quality defensive backs. If the top defensive ends are all picked in the top half of the draft, expect Belichick to pull another shocker.
18. San Diego Chargers - Corey Liuget (DE, Illinois)
Liuget is very tough to block one-on-one, giving the Chargers a quality 3-4 defensive end that they haven't had for a while. Outside linebacker is certainly another option.
19. New York Giants - Adrian Clayborn (DE, Iowa)
Clayborn has some question marks surrounding his arm affected by illness, but it takes a keen eye to ever see it affect him on tape. He will thrive in an attacking front seven at the NFL level.
20. Tampa Bay Bucs - Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama)
While LeGarrette Blount and Cadillac Williams are certainly talented, it's tough to guarantee that they will be available for all 16 games. Ingram will be an excellent running back, provided his knee holds up.
21. Kansas City Chiefs - Phil Taylor (DL, Baylor)
Big men win football games. Few are bigger than Taylor. Expect Scott Pioli to continue to build the middle of the Chiefs young defense.
22. Indianapolis Colts - Mike Pouncey (OL, Florida)
While we don't buy all the hype surrounding Pouncey, he will be a starting interior lineman in the NFL. If Peyton Manning and company think he could be the center of the future, they might let him learn from Jeff Saturday while playing guard.
23. Philadelphia Eagles - Jimmy Smith (CB, Colorado)
Incredibly talented, but aconsummatejerk. He should fit in well with current Eagles cornerback Asante Samuels.
24. New Orleans Saints - Martez Wilson (LB, Illinois)
Gregg Williams will be salivating to draft this speedy linebacker. He can play both inside and outside, and can really get to the ball quickly.
25. Seattle Seahawks - Mikel Leshoure (RB, Illinois)
If the Seahawks aren't in love with one of the QB's, Leshoure would provide them with a tough runner that has some skills in the passing game as well.
26. Baltimore Ravens - Ryan Kerrigan (DE, Purdue)
After whiffing on Sergio Kindle last year, Ryan Kerrigan will be looked on to provide an outside rush - something he is very capable of doing.
27. Atlanta Falcons - Derek Sherrod (OT, Mississippi State)
You must protect Matt Ryan. Sam Baker has been decent, but Sherrod is a prototypical left tackle that is great in the passing game.
28. New England Patriots - Anthony Castonzo (OL, Boston College)
They might have to trade up a few picks to get him, but Castonzo offers the Patriots the versatility and skill set that Coach Scarnecchia craves.
29. Chicago Bears - Gabe Carimi (OL, Wisconsin)
Carimi would be a huge upgrade for the Bears offensive line - a unit that somehow didn't cost the Bears their season by letting Jay Cutler get maimed.
30. New York Jets - Akeem Ayers (OLB, UCLA)
Rex Ryan would love to get his hands on Phil Taylor or one of the top receivers here, but Ayers would be a nice fit in the Jets attacking defense. He plays with much better speed than he showed this off-season.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers - Nate Solder (OT, Colorado)
The Steelers tackle depth was a travesty last year. Solder is still a bit raw, but his ability to play both left and right tackle gives him some added value to a team with a thin offensive line.
32. Green Bay Packers - Brandon Harris (CB, Miami)
We wouldn't be surprised to see the Packers take a bookend to Clay Matthews like Brooks Reed, but their defensive backfield is a strength that will need some attention in the future to keep it that way.

Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'


Ohio State LB on Belichick: 'When you first meet him, you're scared'

Even for some of the nation's top athletes, confident 20-somethings with the rest of their (perhaps very lucrative) lives ahead of them, there's a feeling you just can't shake when Bill Belichick walks into the room. 

"When you first meet him, you're scared," said Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan, per WBZ. "He's quizzing you. It's like a little test. But after you get done with the test, the quiz or whatever, drawing up the defense, it's pretty cool. They're real down to earth people. Really cool."

Belichick was spotted at Ohio State's pro day getting a closer look at McMillan and his teammates on Thursday. He then headed off to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the Wolverines showcase Friday.

During various scouting trips across the country, the Patriots appear to be showing significant interest in the incoming class of linebackers. Belichick spent some extra time with Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham -- who's projected to be a first-rounder -- at his pro day. The team reportedly scheduled a meeting with a speedy linebacker from Cincinnati. And Matt Patricia caught up with Notre Dame linebacker James Onwualu once his workouts finished up on Thursday. 

As for McMillan, the 6-2, 240-pounder was a second-team All-American and a first-team All-Big Ten choice. He's instinctive, but there's some question as to whether or not he has the strength to hold up inside at the next level.

PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial


PODCAST: Dan Wetzel on the Aaron Hernandez double-murder trial

Tom E. Curran has Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports as a guest to discuss the Aaron Hernandez double homicide trial. Wetzel has been in the courtroom, and wrote this piece about the day Hernandez’s former friend Alexander Bradley testified in court. 

After speaking with Wetzel, Curran has Tim Rohan of on to discuss his day with ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

SUBSCRIBE iTunes | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | AudioBoom

Quick Slants The Podcast is presented by Papa Gino’s.