NEPatriotsDraft.com 2011 NFL Mock Draft

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NEPatriotsDraft.com 2011 NFL Mock Draft

By James Christensen
www.nepatriotsdraft.com

Here's the latest in a series of mock drafts put together by nepatriotsdraft.com:

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.

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

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Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

QUESTIONABLE
TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

NOT LISTED
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)