McCrystal’s Final 2011 Mock Draft

1.
Carolina Panthers Cam Newton QB Auburn
Well, it looks like the Panthers have settled on their guy. I can’t stress enough how much of a mistake I think will be, but owner Jerry Richardson wants to save his floundering franchise and he’s willing to roll the dice on Newton. There’s a chance it works out, but Newton is a boom-or-bust prospect if there ever was one. There’s no middle ground for him. He’ll either become a superstar, or he’ll fizzle out like Vince Young and JaMarcus Russell.
2. Denver Broncos Von Miller DE Texas A&M
Rumors are floating that the Broncos may be “in love” with Patrick Peterson. I’m not buying it. Their decision comes down to Marcell Dareus and Von Miller. While I’m not nearly as confident with this selection as I am with the No. 2 pick in most years, I’m leaning toward Miller. John Fox values pass rushers more than interior lineman, and Miller could develop into a 10+ sack per year guy in his scheme.
3. Buffalo Bills Marcell Dareus DE Alabama
This is a make-or-break draft pick for Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey. If they pass on Gabbert and he goes on to be a star in Arizona or San Francisco, Nix/Gailey won’t survive for long in Buffalo. That said, it may be a smart move. Very few believe  Gabbert is a legitimate top-three talent, so waiting to address that need may be the way to go. If they pass on Gabbert, they can’t go wrong with Miller or Dareus.
4. Cincinnati Bengals A.J. Green WR Georgia
I’ve gone back and forth between Green and Julio Jones, but I’ll stick with Green in the final mock. In my opinion there is no comparison; Green is an easy choice for the top receiver. But this is the Bengals we’re talking about, and they certainly could be swayed in a different direction. Either way, this pick has to be a receiver if Mike Brown is intent on convincing Carson Palmer to return. Unless they upgrade the weapons around him, he’s gone.
5. Arizona Cardinals Patrick Peterson CB LSU
The best quarterback or the best overall player? That’s the question for the Cardinals. Ken Whisenhunt pushed hard for them to bring in a veteran last year (other than Derek Anderson) and he’s likely singing the same song this time around. And with Larry Fitzgerald in the last year of his contract, I think they’ll go that route. With that decision made, they’re freed up to take the best available player here, which will likely be Peterson.
6. Cleveland Browns Julio Jones WR Alabama
I’ve been saying for weeks that the Browns will take Peterson. But now that it looks like Gabbert is falling, the chances of Peterson being off the board increase dramatically. That puts the Browns in a tough position -reach for a receiver, or reach for a pass rusher? Given the depth at defensive line I suspect the Browns will go with Jones here and wait for a lineman in the 2nd. I do think this is a reach, but there’s no denying the impact he’ll have on McCoy.
7. San Francisco 49ers Robert Quinn LB North Carolina
With Blaine Gabbert on the board, will Jim Harbaugh try to land his franchise quarterback? It may be tempting, but I believe Harbaugh is genuine in his desire to spend a year working with Alex Smith, if for no other reason than to keep open the possibility of landing Andrew Luck in 2012. That means this pick comes down to Quinn and Amukamara. Both would be good fits, but I believe the 49ers are more concerned with their pass rush than secondary.
8. Tennessee Titans Nick Fairley DT Auburn
Another team that could take Gabbert. And another team that I think would prefer to go with the combination of a veteran and a 2nd or 3rd round quarterback. The Titans know they can win without an elite quarterback thanks to Chris Johnson, but they can’t win without a dominant defense. Fairley would fill the void created by the departure of Albert Haynesworth two years ago and could have a Ndamukong Suh-like rookie year.
9. Dallas Cowboys Tyron Smith OT USC
Once Patrick Peterson falls to No. 5 the Cowboys will be on the phone with the Cardinals trying to trade up. If that falls through, they’ll stay put and settle for Smith. He has the highest ceiling of any offensive lineman in this class, and may be the only one from capable of playing left tackle at an elite level. There are some concerns about his readiness for the NFL, but the Cowboys are desperate to add youth to the offensive line.
10. Washington Redskins Blaine Gabbert QB Missouri
I’m going out on a limb here, but I believe Gabbert is in for a minor fall on draft day. The Redskins certainly aren’t holding their breath in hopes that he’ll be here, but if he does fall I don’t see how Shannahan could pass him up. I also wouldn’t rule out a possible trade up for Gabbert. Once he gets past Arizona, they may try to jump Tennessee and San Francisco in an effort to ensure he’s available for them to select.
11.
Houston Texans
Aldon Smith
OLB Missouri
As far as mid-1st round picks go, this is about as easy as it gets to predict. True, there are no sure things in the draft, but Aldon Smith is just too perfect for the Texans. In order for the move to a 3-4 scheme to work, Wade Phillips needs an elite pass rusher off the edge. Brian Cushing is moving to inside linebacker, opening up a spot for Smith on the edge. The only guy that may draw them away from Smith could be Prince Amukamara, assuming he’s on the board.
12. Minnesota Vikings Jake Locker QB Washington
Behind closed doors I’ll bet even the Vikings would admit Locker isn’t a top-12 talent in this draft. But with only Joe Webb under contract and the start of free agency still up in the air, they’re desperate. I suspect they’ll take Locker now, and then cross their fingers that they can trade for McNabb once the lockout is lifted. Given a year or two to learn under McNabb would be the best-case scenario for Locker, who is not ready to start in 2011.
13. Detroit Lions P. Amukamara CB Nebraksa
The Lions are one of the teams I haven’t gotten a good feel for this offseason. Many mocks have them selecting an offensive tackle (Castonzo or Solder) but I have a feeling Schwartz and Mayhew would prefer to take advantage of the defensive depth in this draft. Amukamara would bring some stability to a shaky secondary, which currently does not feature a single corner who was drafted by the franchise.
14. St. Louis Rams Corey Liuget DT Illinois
The Rams are taking a defensive lineman, that much I’m confident of (unless Julio Jones somehow falls), but which one is anyone’s guess. The consensus is that GM Billy Devaney is fond of Liuget and feels he could potentially play a role similar to what Ndamukong Suh has done of the Lions as an interior pass rusher. That said, Cameron Jordan, Muhammad Wilkerson and even J.J. Watt have to also be considered strong possibilities here.
15. Miami Dolphins Andy Dalton QB TCU
I feel sick just typing Dalton’s name in here. I just can’t believe he is even being considered in the 1st round. It’s not that I don’t like Dalton – he’s my 3rd rated quarterback – but he isn’t a 1st-round talent. That said, I think someone will be desperate enough to take him and the Dolphins are definitely on the short list of possibilities. If he goes in the 1st round I’ll be happy for him, but feel bad for the fans of his new team at the same time.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars Ryan Kerrigan DE Purdue
It’s hard to imagine the Jaguars not taking a defensive end here, but then again, it was even harder to imagine them taking Tyson Alualu 10th overall in 2010. Their pass rush was almost non-existent last season, and Ryan Kerrigan would immediately improve their ability to get to the quarterback. Some feel he is a better fit in a 3-4 scheme, but I think Jacksonville could use him effectively as a pure pass rusher. Da’Quan Bowers is also an option.
17. New England Patriots J.J. Watt DE Wisconsin
[from Raiders] Considering the depth at defensive line in this class and Patriots obvious need to add youth at the position, this is likely to be a defensive end. With Watt, Jordan and Wilkerson all on the board this is a tough call, but Watt just seems like a Belichick-type player. And perhaps most importantly, Watt is best suited to make a smooth transition to defensive end in the Patriots 3-4 scheme.
18. San Diego Chargers Cameron Jordan DE California
I am extremely confident that they Chargers are going upgrade their front seven with this selection – either with a defensive end or outside linebacker. But who will they target? In such a deep class it’s tough to know who will be on the board. Jordan and Muhammad Wilkerson both look like solid options in this scenario. Considering the depth at the position, however, the Chargers may try to trade down and address the need later in the 1st round.
19. New York Giants Mike Pouncey OG Florida
If Pouncey is on the board, the Giants will rush to the podium. And if he’s gone, they may rush to the podium with the name of another offensive lineman (Castonzo? Carimi?). Four of the Giants five starters on the offensive line are over the age of 30 (Chris Snee is the youngest at age 29). Pouncey would provide depth at both guard and center, and his addition could potentially make either Seubert or O’Hara expendable.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Da’Quan Bowers DE Clemson
I’ll join the masses in predicting Bowers’ fall. It’s hard to believe I had him projected to go No. 1 just a few months ago, but a devastating knee injury can have that effect. Even with the injury concerns, I can’t see him falling any further that this – his upside is just too great. If the Bucs take him and his career fizzles due to the injury, I won’t hold it against them at all. He is worth the risk this late in the 1st round.
21.
Kansas City Chiefs
Gabe Carimi
OT Wisconsin
The Chiefs are a tough team to predict, but one thing I’m certain of is that they’ll target a player who can contribute immediately. I expect them to strongly consider an offensive lineman and if Carimi is on the board he could be the pick. His upside is significantly lower than someone like Nate Solder, but he is ready to play right now and should be a significant upgrade over Barry Richardson at right tackle.
22. Indianapolis Colts Nate Solder OT Colorado
It’s rare to have consensus on any late 1st-round pick, but just about everyone seems to believe the Colts are targeting Solder. He has elite athleticism for a linemen and is one of the few players in this year’s draft potentially capable of playing at a Pro Bowl level at left tackle. If the Colts were to pass on Solder, it would only be because he is too raw and they’re looking for someone to start immediately (Castonzo perhaps?).
23. Philadelphia Eagles Jimmy Smith CB Colorado
Due to character concerns I think there are very few teams that will consider Jimmy Smith in the 1st round. However, the Eagles have a glaring hole at cornerback opposite Asante Samuel and haven’t been shy about taking risks. Speaking strictly from a talent standpoint, Smith should be a top-15 pick and if the Eagles can keep him out of trouble he will be a steal here. If they are scared off by character concerns, their attention could turn to Brandon Harris.
24. New Orleans Saints Cam Heyward DT Ohio State
Going off the board with this pick, to an extent. Defensive line isn’t a glaring need in New Orleans but the talent is so deep at the position that I believe the Saints will add depth here. Heyward could be particularly intriguing due to his experience playing both end and tackle in Ohio State 4-3 scheme. That experience could ease his transition to his role in New Orleans, where he could be a backup at both positions in 2011.
25. Seattle Seahawks Phil Taylor DT Baylor
The Seahawks need a quarterback, but I think they’re actually more concerned about the possibility of losing Brandon Mebrane once free agency starts. Selecting a run-stuffing nose tackle like Taylor would serve two purposes. If Mebane returns, Taylor is the perfect compliment. If he leaves, at least they have Taylor left to build around on the defensive line. It would be a nice, safe pick to cover both scenarios.
26. Baltimore Ravens M. Wilkerson DE Temple
The Ravens don’t have a glaring need for a defensive end, but Wilkerson may have too much value for them to pass up here. He is a perfect fit in Baltimore due to his versatility. The Ravens run a hybrid defense, with a lot of 3-4 and 4-3 looks, which requires a deep defensive line and lot of guys like Wilkerson that can play in both systems. Wilkerson played tackle in a 4-3 scheme Temple, but has the skills necessary to play end in a 3-4 as well.
27. Atlanta Falcons Kyle Rudolph TE Notre Dame
Unless the Falcons think Justin Houston is a good fit at end in their 4-3 scheme, they’ll turn to the best available player here. Rudolph is an obvious 1st-round talent who only falls due to injury concerns. While some fans may prefer they get someone who fills a more immediate need, I believe GM Thomas Dimitroff has seen the impact Tony Gonzalez has had on Matt Ryan and doesn’t want to lose that in 2012 when Gonzalez retires.
28. New England Patriots A. Castonzo OT Boston College
Offensive tackle may not be the Patriots most glaring need, but I don’t think Belichick can let Castonzo slide in this scenario. Matt Light will be granted free agency once the offseason begins and if the franchise tag disappears in the new CBA, so will Logan Mankins. That would open up two glaring holes on the Patriots offensive line. I wouldn’t rule out Castonzo as an option for the Patriots with 17th pick either.
29. Chicago Bears Titus Young WR Boise State
If Green and Jones go in the first six picks, 26 selections is a long time to wait without another receiver. Someone else is going to sneak into the 1st round. I’m in the minority in my support for Young, but I think he has a chance to be that guy. The Bears would prefer a bigger target for Jay Cutler, but Young would be an upgrade nonetheless. How many defenses have enough speed to cover Young, Hester and Knox?
30. New York Jets Akeem Ayers OLB UCLA
As good as the Jets defense has been, their pass rushers aren’t anything to be scared of. Adding a young, talented pass rusher to pair with their veterans should be a priority here, and both Ayers and Brooks Reed should be considered options. I’ll give the edge to Ayers because I think he is better suited for Rex Ryan’s scheme. Reed is more of a one-dimensional pass rusher who may not be a three-down player in New York.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers Aaron Williams CB Texas
The Steelers have needed to upgrade their secondary for three or four years and it sounds as though they’re finally willing to spend a high pick on addressing the issue. Williams and Brandon Harris would both be nice fits and I expect at least one of them to be on the board. I’m not crazy about either guy as a 1st-round prospect but when you’re a legitimate Super Bowl contender you can afford to reach to fill a need.
32. Green Bay Packers Mark Ingram RB Alabama
We’re going to come dangerously close to not seeing a running back go in the 1st round this year, but someone will scoop up Ingram at the last minute. Green Bay is definitely a possibility, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Packers trade out of this slot. There isn’t a player that jumps out as an obvious fit for Green Bay here, and there could be a team desperate to trade up for Ingram or perhaps a quarterback.
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Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Mock Draft Comments Off

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Ryan McCrystal

Ryan launched DraftAce in 2004. His Top 100 board is currently ranked 1st out of 20 publications in The Huddle Report's five-year averages. His mock draft is ranked 10th out of 32 competitors.You can also find Ryan's weekly Heisman Predictor series on ESPN Insider every fall.