2011 NFL Mock Draft Version 1.0 by: “The Better Looking Mel Kiper”



The NFL season is now officially past the halfway point, so what better time is there to issue my first installment of the 2011 Mock Draft Version 1.0 by “The Better Looking Mel Kiper.”  Todd McShay stole some of my thunder, putting up the first five picks of his mock on SportsCenter over the past week, but I’m going to ignore his blatant attempt to steal my spotlight and give the people what they want.

Disclaimer #1: The draft order has been determined by the team records as of 11/9/10, as well as opponents’ win-loss percentage.  A * denotes playoff teams and the order that they were eliminated.

Disclaimer #2: Contrary to popular belief, I can not see more than 11 days into the future.  Therefore, if 12 days from now it becomes very obvious that something will occur in the draft that I did not account for, don’t hold it against me…I’m only partially superhuman.

Disclaimer #3: I catch heat, usually from my co-bloggers, about picks that I make and how high or low I have guys rated.  My mock draft selections are influenced only by my thoughts and scouting of a particular player.  If you don’t like it then feel free to chime in and speak your mind.  Otherwise, I don’t want to hear it.

1. Buffalo (0-8)

The Bills could use help at a wide variety of positions.  Their transition to a 3-4 defense has been a rough one.  They need to increase talent levels throughout their entire defense.  They don’t have a left tackle, or really any lineman of much substance at all.  C.J. Spiller is their lone offensive threat (besides Steve Johnson and Lee Evans, but they are struggling to even get the ball) and he barely even gets to touch the ball.  Sadly, having the first pick overall with no rookie salary cap essentially limits your team’s selection to two positions, quarterback and left tackle.  As I mention in the weekly “Scottie vs. Matt” picks post, the Bills have been on Andrew-Luck-watch all season.

SELECTION: Andrew Luck, QB Stanford

2. Dallas (1-7)

Who would have thought that before the season started the Cowboys, at any point throughout the year, would be in the running for the number one overall pick?  I guess that’s why there play the games.  Anyways, the Cowboys are a talented team and should look for a player that will be a staple of what they are trying to do for years to come.  They have a lot of money invested on defense, as well as the wide receiving corps and the running backs.  It looks like it could be time to think about getting a guy to protect Tony Romo, attempting to keep your “franchise” quarterback on the field.

SELECTION: Derek Sherrod, OT Mississippi State

3. Carolina (1-7)

I know that the Bills don’t have a win on the season, but in my opinion Carolina is the worst team in the NFL.  They don’t have a quarterback to speak of, their two all-world running backs have stopped even thinking about trying to find a hole, their wide receivers can’t get a pass thrown their way, and their defense is mediocre at best.  When your team is that bad, you have to start grabbing the most talented guys available.

SELECTION: A.J. Green, WR Georgia

4. San Francisco (2-6)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the San Francisco 49ers will win the NFC West.  If my prediction holds true, then obviously they will have a much lower draft selection than they do here, but I’m not about to start switching the draft order around based on my predictions, that will undoubtedly get ugly.  The 49ers have a very talented, but young offensive line, as well as one of the best young receivers in the game.  Combine those aspects with Frank Gore and Vernon Davis, and the offense seems formidable.  Singletary is on the hot seat, so bringing in a rookie quarterback doesn’t look like the best route for immediate success.  Therefore, look for an immediate defensive upgrade with arguably the best player in the draft.

SELECTION: Patrick Peterson, CB LSU

5. Detroit (2-6)

Another thing that I have stated continuously was how much I love this Lions team.  Keeping Stafford healthy for an entire season would lead to at least 6-8 wins.  But, that is the key.  This team can not keep Matthew Stafford healthy.  Their left tackle position has been a sore spot for years.  If Peterson is still around, I would expect Detroit to give him a long, hard look.  But picking up a left tackle should be priority number one.

SELECTION: Anthony Castonzo, OT Boston College

6. Denver (2-6)

Denver has started off this season just as terribly as they finished off their last.  Kyle Orton is flinging the ball all over the field, making guys like Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney key fantasy players (it is as ridiculous as it sounds).  Demarryius Thomas has yet to live up to the hype of being a first round pick, mainly because of his inability to stay healthy.  A glaring weakness for Denver is on the defensive line.  They have yet to fill those spots properly since they have switched over to a 3-4 defense a few years ago.  Luckily for the Broncos, the 2011 draft is littered with 3-4 defensive lineman.

SELECTION: Marcel Dareus, DL Alabama

7. Cincinnati (2-6)

It must be devastating for a franchise to have such high expectations coming into a season, just to see all of it go by the wayside and your team essentially stinks.  Unlike to boys down in Dallas, at least the Bengals are still fighting for wins.  There are not many positions that are glaring weaknesses in Cincinatti, so in my book that always mean grab the most talented guy on the board, and its only fitting that the Bengals take a flyer on a guy that it no longer allowed to play college football.

SELECTION: Robert Quinn, DE North Carolina

8. Arizona (3-5)

Arizona is a team that seemingly has no direction.  Former first rounder Beanie Wells hasn’t been able to stay healthy, limiting his impact and not allowing Ken Whisenhunt to run the ball like he wants to.  The Derek Anderson-Max Hall experiment has blown up in their face.  The defense has been decent, but not good enough to overcome how poor the offense has been playing.  I could see coach Whisenhunt going defense here, trying to establish the physicality that he became so accustomed to seeing in Pittsburgh, but a prospect like Jake Locker is too rare to overlook.

SELECTION: Jake Locker, QB Washington

9. Minnesota (3-5)

It is almost a guarantee that Brad Childress will not be the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings in 2011.  Childress’ departure might very well lead to Brett Favre signing a 5 year deal to be the quarterback, prompting Minnesota to change their team name to the Favre’s.  If Locker was still around, I would expect him to get a long look from the Vikings, although those within the organization are still pretty high on Tavaris Jackson.  Ryan Mallett might get a bit of a look here too, but 9 is a bit high for him.  Cornerback is one of the few weaknesses of this surprisingly underperforming defense.

SELECTION: Prince Amukamara, CB Nebraska

10. Cleveland (3-5)

The Browns seem to have found their quarterback of the future, as Colt McCoy is playing better than Clausen and arguably Bradford (the two quarterbacks picked before him in the 2010 draft).  This gives the Browns an opportunity to address other positions of need.  Defensive line and rush outside linebacker are the two spots that jump off of the page at me, but a coaching change (i.e. bringing in Jon Gruden) could certainly change the draft day philosophy.

SELECTION: Adrian Clayborn, DL Iowa

11. San Diego (4-5)

The lack of Vincent Jackson’s present throughout the first half of the season, combined with the injuries that the Chargers’ wide receivers have endured, has really highlighted San Diego’s need for a number one wideout.  Yes, Philip Rivers has been putting up numbers with no name guys, but their run game has been pathetic.  A big-time wideout would certainly help alleviate some of the pressure that the oft injured Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert are facing.

SELECTION: Julio Jones, WR Alabama

12. Seattle (4-4)

The Seahawks are one of the more surprising teams in the NFL.  Pete Carroll has essentially rebuilt this team in one season, a surprising feat considering his past failures in the NFL.  Charlie Whitehurst apparently is Carroll’s quarterback of the future with an aging Matt Hassleback’s performance continuing to diminish.  A prime-time running back could be just what this offense needs, even after the acquisition of Marshawn Lynch.  If Julio Jones is still around, I think he would wind up in Seattle.  But, he’s gone so the ‘Hawks have to go in a different direction.

SELECTION: Mark Ingram, RB Alabama

13. Houston (4-4)

I fully expect the Texans to finish the season with a record above .500, probably placing them squarely in the middle of the playoff picture, and with a lower draft pick.  The emergence of Arian Foster has certainly put a damper on Houston’s need for a running back.  After over-viewing their depth chart, there are two glaring weaknesses that stick out to me.  Cornerback Kareem Jackson was the Texans’ first round pick last season.  He hasn’t played terrible, but how much can you expect from a rookie corner.  The Texans’ pass defense has been the worst unit in the league, but how much money are you willing to tie up in one position.  The other position of need is wide receiver.  When the going gets tough, Matt Schaub throws it up to Andre Johnson.  Not a bad option by any means, aside from the fact that everybody knows that is where the ball is going.  I wouldn’t be willing to spend top 15 money on a wideout that doesn’t deserve to be taken that high, so bolstering the secondary could go a long way in vastly improving the Texans as a whole.

SELECTION: Brandon Harris, CB Miami

14. Jacksonville (4-4)

Contrarily to my thoughts on the Texans, there is no shot that the Jags are .500 by the end of the season.  I could easily see them finishing with 4 or 5 wins total.  With the bad seasons piling up, it looks like Jack Del Rio’s time in Jacksonville might be coming to a close.  Coaching changes and quarterback changes usually are synonymous with one another, which also means David Garrard’s days could be numbered.  Jacksonville needs to poster-boy quarterback to excite their fan base and try and keep their games from getting blacked out.  The Jags have the opportunity to grab the most physically imposing QB in this draft.  Mallett has a huge arm, but his decision making is sometimes questionable.

SELECTION: Ryan Mallett, QB Arkansas

15. Miami (4-4)

Chad Pennington is back at the helm in Miami, which probably will lead to several victories considering that all Chad Pennington does is win.  Which arises the question of why this guy keeps getting benched?  So, is Chad Henne done?  It has to be a huge blow to his ego and confidence that he just got benched for a guy without a shoulder.  After this season both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are free agents, which means that at least one of them if not both of them will be playing on different teams.  Now that Mark Ingram has already been drafted, Daniel Thomas looks like the back with the most upside in the draft.

SELECTION: Daniel Thomas, RB Kansas State

16. Washington (4-4)

The Redskins were thought to be involved in the Randy Moss sweepstakes, but that never really panned out.  Santana Moss is the ‘Skins most threatening wide receiver, which is pretty pathetic in my mind.  Jonathan Baldwin is a physical specimen.  At 6’5″ 225 lbs, Baldwin nearly has tight end size, but running a 4.5 in the 40 he has the ability to create space and snatch the ball out of the air with huge hands.  Baldwin looks like a more physically gifted Marques Colston (who ironically was a tight end/wide receiver in college at Hofstra).

SELECTION: Jonathan Baldwin, WR Pittsburgh

17. New England – from Oakland (5-4)

An already young and talented New England team has the ability to improve their team vastly by adding two more talented first round picks.  This defense is already one of the youngest in the league, and in my opinion will be one of the better units in the league after only a couple of years.  Coach Belichick’s history leads me to believe that this pick will be a defensive or offensive lineman.  Belichick knows that they way to build and sustain a great team is through the hogs up front, both defensively and offensively.  2010’s seventh round pick Brandon Deadrick has made his way into the starting lineup, and contributions from Ron Brace, Myron Pryor, and Mike Wright have bolstered the performance of the defensive line even with the absence of Ty Warren.  But, adding some talent (in the deepest 3-4 defensive end draft I have ever seen) could lead to this defensive line being considered one of the best in the league.

SELECTION: Nick Fairley, DE/DT Auburn

18. Chicago (5-3)

Jay Cutler hasn’t really turned out to be the franchise quarterback that Chicago fans thought they were getting when they traded 57 picks for him.  Cutler’s decision making isn’t great, but he doesn’t have much protection either.  Mike Martz’s offense relies heavily on deep passes, which require that the quarterback has time (see Orlando Pace in St. Louis).  With all of the talent that the Bears have on defense, addressing the offensive line should be the first priority.

SELECTION: Gabe Carimi, OT Wisconsin

19. Tampa Bay (5-3)

The Bucanneers and head coach Raheem Morris have already out done most expectations for the 2010 season.  Josh Freeman has matured quickly into a decent NFL quarterback, and he has the look of a guy that could be very good in the NFL.  LeGarrette Blount has showed some of the talent that had him projected as a first round pick before pulling his best Pacquiao impersonation.  The defense has been decent, but their inability to pressure the quarterback has been their achilles heel.

SELECTION: Da’Quan Bowers, DE Clemson

20. Tennessee (5-3)

Similarly to Tampa’s defensive issues, the Titans struggle to get to the quarterback.  But, even with those struggles, their defense has been one of the best units in the league.  Offensively, Tennessee is pretty much set.  They have a group of young receivers, led by the emerging Kenny Britt.  Compiled with a decent offensive line, a superstar running back in Chris Johnson, and serviceable Vince Young, the Titans don’t need to spend a first round pick on offense.

SELECTION: Ryan Kerrigan, DE Purdue

21. St. Louis* (4-4)

Sam Bradford has surpassed my expectations for this season.  He has been calm and composed in the pocket, making the right reads and delivering the ball with speed and accuracy.  Obviously, there have been some growing pains in St. Louis, as some misreads have led to interceptions as well as not having a noteworthy wide receiver to throw to.  Picking up a playmaking wideout should be the first priority for the Rams in April.

SELECTION: Malcom Floyd, WR Notre Dame

22. Kansas City* (5-3)

The Chiefs are another team that has exceeded expectations this season.  Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles have put this team on their back and run their way into the playoff hunt in the AFC.  Kansas City’s defense has been revitalized under the direction of Romeo Crennell, and the offense has done enough with Charlie Weis at the helm.  The next two drafts will be crucial in the continued development of the Chiefs.  Good picks and this team will be very good for years to come; miss on some high picks and it could be back to terribleness in Kansas City.  The Chiefs could use a wideout, but most of the first round talent has already been taken, so replacing an aging Mike Vrabel should be atop the list of to-do’s.


23. Philadelphia* (5-3)

After dealing away key secondary members Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown, the Eagles’ secondary has been exposed this year, primarily opposite of Asante Samuel.  Ellis Hobbs hasn’t played well enough to hold down a starting spot, and the backups aren’t talented enough to consistently be a starter in the NFL.  The 2011 NFL Draft is littered with first round talent at the cornerback spot.  I’ve been saying for a couple of years now that the Eagles should look into drafting a linebacker, but the first round might not be the place for that.  They could also use a big back to compliment LeSean McCoy.

SELECTION: Janoris Jenkins, CB Florida

24. Indianapolis* (5-3)

The Colts have been one of the better offensive units in the NFL for the past decade.  They lose all-time greats like Marvin Harrison and replace them seamlessly with no-name guys like Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie.  The same raw talent might not be there, but these guys are football players, plain and simple.  The defensive side of the ball has notoriously the weaker unit of the Colts.  Bringing in a big-time outside linebacker to play alongside Gary Brackett will make them much more athletic.

SELECTION: Travis Lewis, OLB Oklahoma

25. New Orleans* (6-3)

Even with the plethera of injuries to the running back position, the New Orleans’ Saints offense continues to roll.  With Drew Brees at the helm, the receivers continue to flourish, and the run game is deployed only when needed.  Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush’ absence has been a bit troublesome for the Saints, as they experienced questionable losses against the likes of the Browns and the Cardinals, but at 6-3 there are not many holes that need to be filled offensively.  New Orleans could use to pick up a running back, but that can be done a bit later in the draft.  Defense should be the prioroty, with weaknesses on the defensive line, linebacking corps, and secondary.  With the selection of Patrick Robinson (CB) in the first round last year, I look for the Saints to address another issue come April.

SELECTION: Von Miller, DE/OLB Texas A&M

26. New York Jets* (6-2)

Offensively, the New York Jets might not even have room for a first round pick.  They are set all the way from quarterback, through the line and running backs, the recieving corps and tight ends.  They may need a new offensive coordinator, but they are rarely selected in the first round.  Even though we continue to hear about how imposing the Jets’ defense is, that is where all of their holes are.  The secondary could use a safety, but I don’t see any safeties as first round talent right now.  Depending on what happens with Kris Jenkins, the Jets could be in need of a defensive end, nose tackle, and a rush outside linebacker.

SELECTION: Allen Bailey, DE/DT Miami

27. New England* (6-2)

Here lies opportunity number two to improve one of the youngest defensive units in the NFL.  It would not surprise me to see coach Belichick deal one, if not both of these picks come April.  He loves nothing more than trading down and picking up extra picks.  I truly believe that he fantasizes about trading down so often that he gets every single pick in the seventh round.  Anyways, after picking up a 3-4 defensive end earlier in the draft, the Pats could look in several directions.  Running back, wide reciever, rush linebacker, and cornerback are all priorities.  If I had my choice, I would go with a big time wideout to help open up that offense a bit more.  If I was Belichick, I would go with a offensive lineman because I hate making my fans happy (in the short term at least) or spending a lot of money on skill position players.  But, this is my mock so I’ll take it where I want.

SELECTION: Justin Houston, DE/OLB Georgia

28. Atlanta* (6-2)

I love the Falcons this season.  With that game winning drive against the Ravens on Thursday Matt Ryan, in my mind, started approaching elite status for quarterbacks in the NFL (joining the likes of Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Rivers, and Brees).  Michael Turner has played well again this season and Roddy White is an absolute monster.  Defensively, the Falcons are mediocre and have one of the below average pass defenses in the NFL.  In my opinion, the Falcons need help at defensive end, outside linebacker, cornerback, and safety.

SELECTION: Bruce Carter, OLB North Carolina

29. Baltimore* (6-2)

The Ravens are back to “elite” status in the NFL.  They finally got their hands on a number one wide receiver, which has helped to evolve this offense into a threatening unit.  Their defense, under the continued leadership of Ray Lewis, has been stout (big surprise there).  Ed Reed is finally back on the field and their defense will only get better.  As of April, the Ravens could use to add some depth to their offensive and defensive lines and another wide receiver.  But, the position of most need is the cornerback spot.

SELECTION: Aaron Williams, CB Texas

30. Green Bay* (6-3)

Removing injuries from all teams, Green Bay might very well be the most talented bunch in the league.  They are full of weapons offensively, from Jennings, Driver, Jones, and Nelson to Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant, they are stacked.  They spent their first round pick in 2010 on offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, so this year they may very well go for defense.  Charles Woodson is aging and Al Harris was recently released.  Clay Matthews is defensive MVP so far this season, but the spot across from him is weak.  Their defensive line is pretty good, but could use some upgrades.  This low in the first round it is about grabbing the best talent available.

SELECTION: Jeremy Beal, DE/OLB Oklahoma

31. New York Giants* (6-2)

I’m fully expecting the Giants to draft a defensive lineman come April because they don’t have enough (still baffled over that Jason Pierre-Paul pick).  Offensively, the emergence of Hakeem Nicks as a legitimate number one wideout has improved their offensive output greatly (pretty sure I called this guy being a stud two years ago).  Their offensive line is set, especially with former first rounder William Beaty waiting in the wings.  Defensively, they are obviously good at defensive end and in the secondary, but could use some help at defensive tackle and linebacker.

SELECTION: Marvin Austin, DT North Carolina

32. Pittsburgh* (6-2)

I’m not saying that the Steelers are going to win the championship, but obviously the website where I pasted the draft order from does.  But, I’m much too lazy and busy to change it so for now, congratulations Pittsburgh.  The Steelers have glaring weaknesses all over their offensive line.  Their offensive tackles are old, and their guards are just not that good.  Pouncey is probably their best offensive lineman and he is a rookie center.  Aside from the offensive line, they are not overly weak at any other position other than cornerback.

SELECTION: Nate Solder, OT Colorado