Trevors 2011 Mock NFL Draft

nfl draftFinal: Updated 4/26/2011

By Trevor Page

I’ve been looking up and creating my own NFL Mock Drafts for a little over a decade now and since I’m not the only one with “Draft Sickness”, now there are 5-8 different draft guides available on magazine stands, at least 4 more that are mailed to me from magazine subscriptions, and you’re not going to believe this, but the internet has a ton of information on it!!  In looking up Mock Drafts online over the past 3 years I kept coming back to nfldraftdog.com because of the accuracy and logical Mocks are not easy to find.  Make sure to keep coming back this year and in the future to follow the draft process with one of the best sites for Mock Drafts and College/NFL football information you could want. 

One quick proclaimer: With the court ruling to lift the lockout yesterday there is so much in the air concerning Free Agency, contracts, and player trades that it’s really tough to predict what could happen, so I will be doing my Mock Draft as the picks stand right now not taking into account any trades.  As of right now, teams can only trade draft picks for draft picks, so don’t be surprised if there is a TON of movement of picks, especially between picks #10 and #32 as teams move around to select targeted players.  With that said, here is my final 1st Round NFL Mock Draft.

2011 1st Round NFL Mock Draft

#1) Carolina Panthers- Cam Newton- Quarterback, Auburn

Summary: To me, Newton is as far from a sure thing as you could find at the QB position.  Right before the 2011 NFL Combine, Newton was quoted saying he wanted to become “an entertainer and icon” while in the NFL.  His ego is massive and it’s easy to recognize how he constantly crosses the line between being confident and being cocky.  It’s not all negative though.  Standing 6’6 and 250 lbs, Newton was in the top 5 in the country in passing efficiency and put up great numbers, although in a very “gimmicky” offense at Auburn. No question he is a winner with as a Junior College National Champion in 2009, BCS National Champion 2010, but when drafting a QB this high teams have to ask themselves, ‘can this player be the face of our franchise for the next decade?’.  His talent and upside will probably be too much to pass up, but I wouldn’t touch him

#2) Denver Broncos – Marcell Dareus- Defensive Tackle, Alabama

Summary: Taking into account all of the college football I watched this past year, Dareus was the most disruptive/mistake free player I saw at any position. At 6’4 310 lbs he is a monster inside that will demand double teams which will open space for the Broncos to increase their pass rush as Denver ranked 32nd out of 32 teams in total sacks with only 23.  Coach John Fox is installing a new 4-3 defense and Dareus would be a perfect way to start the rebuilding of a pretty awful defensive line. 

#3) Buffalo Bills- Von Miller- Outside Linebacker, Texas A&M

Summary: The Bills do have some nice pieces on defense with Kyle Williams, Jarius Byrd, Paul Posluszny, and Donte Whitner (free agent), but the “D” still ranked 24th in total defense and dead last in rushing yards allowed.  Miller (6’3 245 lbs, 4.56 40 time) had 30.5 sacks in 3 years at A&M but his play against the run is constantly overlooked.  He is an explosive athlete with a passion for the game and about as perfect of a fit as you could find for Buffalo.  A lot of experts label Miller as a “sure thing” or “safe”. 

#4) Cincinnati Bengals- Blaine Gabbert- Quarterback, Missouri

Summary: Newton has the athleticism, Locker has the upside, Mallett has the arm, but Gabbert might be the most complete QB in the 2011 Draft.  Gabbert has prototypical size at 6’5 240 lbs and can make every throw on a route tree.  An early entry player he played in only 31 games at Missouri.  Very intelligent and could possibly adjust to an NFL playbook/offense faster than the other QB’s in this draft.  Carson Palmer is demanding a trade, Terrell Owens isn’t returning, and Chad Johnson could be gone as well.  This team has a ton of free agents, and it’s time to go into rebuilding mode.  I see Cincinnati starting with Gabbert and building around him.

#5) Arizona Cardinals- Robert Quinn- Defensive End/Outside LB, North Carolina

Summary: Arizona would absolutely love to see either Dareus or Miller fall to them as both would be great picks to add to their 3-4 defense.  Quinn isn’t exactly a consolation prize though.  He is a beast.  At 6’4 and 265 lbs, Quinn tore up the combine posting a 4.62 40 time, a 34 inch vertical jump, and 22 reps of 225 lbs on the bench press.  Ultimate risk/reward player as he missed all of the 2010 season due to NCAA violations, but is known in the locker room as a solid character guy (overcoming a brain tumor as a teenager) with a non-stop motor.  His athleticism will allow him to play rush OLB in ‘Zona’s 3-4 alignment as well as put his hand on the ground as a defensive end in a 4 man front.  Raw talent justifies top 5 pick.

#6) Cleveland Browns- Julio Jones- Wide Receiver, Alabama

Summary: AJ Green is ranked ahead of Jones in pre-draft evaluations about 99.9% of the time, but while Jones has some lingering questions regarding a case of the “dropsy’s” during his career, he fits into Cleveland’s West Coast offense a little better than Green. Jones ran a 4.39 40 time at the Combine while measuring a chiseled 6’4 and 220 lbs.  JJ is the type of player that can punish defenses in man or zone coverage with his breakaway speed taking a West Coast 7 yard slant 75 yards for a TD.  Would also give the Browns a red zone target they haven’t had since Braylon Edwards (yeah…Braylon Edwards!).

#7) San Francisco 49ers- Patrick Peterson- Cornerback, LSU

Summary: Peterson is simply too talented to slip past the 49ers at #7.  SF has needed an explosive weapon in the return game for over a decade and Peterson brings ST’s Pro Bowl potential to the City by the Bay.  When San Fran gave huge money to Nate Clements in 2007 (at the time he was the highest paid defensive player in NFL HISTORY!!) they figured the position was locked down for the next 7-9 years.  Clements has had multiple injury issues and to be honest he just hasn’t been productive (10 int’s and 2 sacks in 4 yrs w/ SF).  A freak athlete who is built with linebacker size (6’1 220 lbs) and Wide Receiver speed (2nd fastest 40 time of all 300 players at the combine, 4.34), Peterson gives the 49ers a true #1 CB and an elite player that opposing teams will be forced to game plan for every week.

#8) Tennessee Titans- Nick Fairley- Defensive Tackle, Auburn

Summary: The NFL is a Quarterback driven league…you cannot win in this league without stability at the QB position.  There have been rumors over the past week that after their personal workout with Jake Locker that the Titans may be targeting him with the 8th pick.  Locker is great, but this is just too early to take the risk of drafting a QB that you can’t, without a doubt, foresee as a hit.  Miss on the QB and your franchise is set back 5 years on the court and financially. Tennessee ranked 26th in total defense in 2010 and 28th in pass defense, a big change from the days of top 10 Titan defenses while Albert Haynesworth was reeking havoc at DT.  The 6’5 300 lbs Fairley, put simply, is a playmaker and played his best in big games.  The SEC Championship game versus South Carolina and the BCS Title game versus Oregon were like Fairley’s personal highlight videos.  DT is also a premium position that is more financially suitable for a team picking in the top 10.

#9) Dallas Cowboys- Tyron Smith- Offensive Tackle, USC

Summary: I can’t wait until we get closer to the 2011 season so we can all start hearing (again) about how good the Cowboys are going to be.  Dallas has all this “talent” and “playmakers” but here is the flat truth about the ‘Boys…they have exactly 1 playoff win since 1995 and their “talent” filled roster is not only getting old, but due to some questionable drafting, they lack depth at all 3 levels of the defense.  Last season went up in smoke after QB Tony Romo was rolling around on the turf in “Jerry’s World” (New Cowboys Stadium) with a broken collarbone.  Dallas has had noticeable issues on the O-Line for several years now, but since 1999, Jerry Jones has only spent a 1st or 2nd Round pick on an offensive lineman twice.  Smith offers huge upside following a 3 year career at USC.  He is a converted Tight End with great feet, he is only 21 years old, and between the end of the Trojans’ season and the NFL Combine he put on 20 pounds to measure 6’6 305 lbs in Indianapolis.  Smith played primarily Right Tackle in college and may have to start there in the NFL, but he will end up being a keystone piece as Dallas begins to replace aging players on the line.

#10) Washington Redskins- AJ Green-Wide Receiver, Georgia

Summary:  Other than Newton or Gabbert falling to #10, this is close to a dream scenario for the ‘Skins.  Talent-wise, Green is one of the top 5 players in the entire draft.  Washington has big time uncertainty at QB, but again, this is too early for Locker or Ryan Mallett.  There are rumors floating around that Head Coach Mike Shanahan has fallen in love with Ryan Mallett’s arm but I just can’t see a player graded out in the 2nd Round going so early.  Anything can happen, but Green gives the ‘Skins a talent at WR that they have been looking for over the past 5-8 years.  Wasted 2nd Round picks on Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly in 2008 set this position back and forced the team to rely on 38 year old ex-Seahawk ”legend” Joey Galloway (that’s a joke btw) and 31 year old Santana Moss as their 2 starters.  With great size at 6’4 and 207 lbs, great speed (4.48 40), and with hands made of glue, Green will finally solidify a huge position of need Redskin fans have been waiting for.

#11) Houston Texans- Cameron Jordan-Defensive End, California

Summary: Jordan looks to be what some might consider a “boring” pick for the Texans, but new Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips is making the transition to a 3-4 alignment and Jordan offers the team versatility it will need to handle the switch.  A 3 year starter at Cal, Jordan has NFL bloodlines (his father Steve Jordan was a 6 time Pro Bowl Tight End during his 13 years with the Vikings), experience playing in a hybrid 3-4 scheme, and at 6’4 287 lbs he has prototypical size to play the 5 technique End in a 3 man front. However, Jordan possesses enough athletic ability to put his hand down as a Defensive End in a 4 man front, and could even offer a pretty scary proposition to offenses rushing the passer from a standing OLB spot.  This will be the Texans’ 10th Draft since their inception and this would be the 7th time they take a defensive player in the 1st Round.  

#12) Minnesota Vikings- Da’Quan Bowers-Defensive End, Clemson

Summary: Getting a top 5 talent in Bowers at a need position is just too hard to pass up for the Vikings.  Yes, Minny has a gaping hole at the QB position, but this is a veteran team with its core players built to win now.  DE Ray Edwards is a Free Agent, and with high salary players already littering the D-Line (Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, Pat Williams) it might be too much to meet Edwards’ contract demands.  Bowers has questions about if a knee injury and subsequent surgery could be a long term issue affecting his play, but he was the #1 High School recruit in 2008, has athleticism to burn, and in his Senior year at Clemson the 6’4 280 lbs beast registered 15.5 sacks and 26 Tackles for Loss.  A natural fit at Left DE opposite Allen and next to the Williams’.

#13) Detroit Lions- Prince Amukamara-Cornerback, Nebraska

Summary: Sometimes when you look at potential picks for teams in the NFL Draft there are picks that just make too much sense for them to not happen. The Lions are improving (that is not a typo) but they move through CB’s like they have reached their expiration date.  Since 1997 Detroit has drafted a Cornerback in the 1st or 2nd Round 4 times and has never ended up with anything more than a solid rotation guy.  A 3 year starter for the Cornhuskers, Amukamara is the best technical CB in this draft.  He isn’t going to blow anyone away with his combine stats (6’0 200 lbs with a 4.43 40 time isn’t exactly chopped liver), but there is a reason Big 12 teams refused to throw his way as opposing QB’s only completed 18 of 52 throws to WR’s he covered.  Pretty close to a no-brainer.

#14) St. Louis Rams- Corey Liuget-Defensive Tackle, Illinois

Summary: The Rams would love to add some offensive firepower to continue building around 2010 #1 overall pick Sam Bradford and soon to be 28 year old RB Steven Jackson, but with top WR’s AJ Green and Julio Jones off the board, the Rams draft a player for their defensive line that is exploding up draft boards.  Liuget is a perfect fit for the 4-3 defense the Rams operate in, especially already set with DE’s Chris Long, James Hall, and George Selvie in place.   A “powder keg” at 6’2 300 lbs, Liuget came out after a junior season where he led the Illini with 12.5 tackles for loss and added 4.5 sacks showing signs he can add a pass rush to the interior of a D-Line.  A “safe” positional pick with huge upside. 

#15) Miami Dolphins- Mike Pouncey-Guard, Florida

Summary: 85% of the mock drafts I’ve seen have the Dolphins taking a RB with Alabama’s Mark Ingram the most common name in this spot.  As we’ve seen over the years the Draft can unearth very productive RB’s in the later rounds (the 2 rookies who led the NFL in rushing last season were both undrafted free agents; Chris Ivory and LaGarrette Blount), and in my opinion there aren’t any RB’s in this class that are worth a 1st Round pick.  Pouncey’s brother, Maurkice, was a Pro Bowl player his rookie year and while Mike doesn’t bring in the identical set of skills, he could very well reach the same level as his twin brother for years to come.  6’4 and 313 lbs, Pouncey offers ideal size for the interior O-Line, a spot Miami has struggled to fill since moving ’04 1st Round pick Vernon Carey from Guard to Right Tackle.  Another “safe” pick in a spot many teams will look to trade into as the Dolphins are without a 2nd Round pick. 
       
#16) Jacksonville Jaguars- JJ Watt-Defensive End, Wisconsin

Summary: Since 2008 the Jags have ranked 20th, 32nd, and 30th in sacks. They have tried time and again to fill this hole with draft picks (Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves) and in free agency, signing oft-injured Aaron Kampman in the 2010 off-season.  In Watt the Jags get a big, powerful, 2 way defensive end that is continually praised for his non-stop motor in the mold of Jared Allen.  Equally adept playing the run and rushing the QB, Watts’ size (6’6 292 lbs) would be a great addition to last years surprise 1st Round pick, #10 overall Tyson Alualu as versatile players who can switch between positions on the D-Line making it difficult for offenses to consistently game plan against.  With 11.5 sacks and 36.5 TFL (tackles for loss) over his past 2 seasons at Camp Randall, Watt offers the type of production this team has been searching for.

#17) New England Patriots (from Oakland)- Aldon Smith-OLB, Missouri

Summary: The Pats 14-2 record in 2010 masked the defensive shortcomings the team had on all 3 levels.  With few questions on offense (O-Line, RB being most pressing) and a defense that ranked 25th overall and 30th in pass defense while totaling only 25 sacks, good for 29th in the league.  Household name, Mike Wright (that’s a joke), led the team with 5.5 sacks and they are in dire need of help at OLB.  Smith is only 21 years old and only played 23 games in college, but he didn’t lack production in those 2 years amassing 112 tackles, 29 TFL, and 17 sacks while seemingly raising his draft stock every week even playing through a leg injury in 2010.  An athletic freak who “looks the part”, Smith (6’4 260 lbs) should be able to transition to a 3-4 rush OLB as he develops physically and mentally to give NE an outside threat that will help improve not only pressuring the QB, but the young/talented secondary as well.

#18) San Diego Chargers- Cameron Heyward-DE, Ohio State

Summary: The Chargers were the best terrible team in 2010 and have been underachieving for about 5 years now.  However, it’s not for a lack of talent.  The roster is filled with veterans in or entering their prime and winning now should be a realistic goal.  One huge part of their successes over the past decade has been the play of the defensive line, but age has caught up to SD and it’s time to find help to play along side the solid Luis Castillo.  Heyward (son of former Atlanta Falcon FB Craig “Ironhead” Heyward) might have been hyped a bit too much following his breakout junior year, but he is a player that really shouldn’t be overlooked.  At 6’5 288 lbs, the former Buckeye has the perfect size/strength combo to man the 5 technique in the Chargers 3-4 defense for the next decade.  Maybe a reach at #18, but players with Heyward’s brand of leadership, production, and pedigree aren’t easy to find. 

#19) New York Giants- Akeem Ayers-OLB, UCLA

Summary: The 3rd straight linebacker off the board, Ayers has a completely different skill set than Smith or Kerrigan.  Ideal size for a strong side LB in a 4-3 alignment (6’3 255 lbs), Ayers has been on scouts radars since red shirting as a freshman in 2007.  He does have some question marks with some questioning his passion for the game, but his across the board production shows what a talented player his is.  Surrounded by questionable (at best) talent at UCLA, Ayers still put up 143 tackles, 24.5 TFL, 10 sacks, 7 pass breakups, and 6 int’s during his 2 years as a starter.  The Giants had to spend most of the season starting the uninspiring group of Clint Stintim, Jonathan Goff, and Michael Boley at LB and Ayers instantly brings an infusion of talent sorely lacking. 

#20) Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Ryan Kerrigan-DE, Purdue

Summary: Ask me who are the most exciting young teams in the NFL one team I might come up with first is Tampa.  The Bucs “brain trust” almost always does a great job in the draft and their young nucleus is only a few impact players away from seriously contending in the suddenly tough NFC South.  One of those impact players has to be found for the defensive line as Tampa ranked 30th in sacks in 2010 with only 26.  The 6’4 263 lbs Kerrigan comes from a pro-style defense at Purdue that has supplied the NFL with several impact pass rushers (including Phillips).   A “non-stop motor” guy who has underrated athleticism, Kerrigan piled up 33.5 sacks, 57 TFL, and 14 forced fumbles as a 3 year starter and with his hardworking nature he should be able to continue producing in the NFL.  A safe pick but you can’t beat character and intangibles.  Will be a team leader.

#21) Kansas City Chiefs- Anthony Castonzo-OT, Boston College

Summary: Chiefs QB Matt Cassel just got absolutely beat to a pulp in their AFC Wild Card game against the Baltimore Ravens and the team overlooking the O-Line position early in the draft has finally caught up to them.  Brandon Albert (the 15th overall pick in 2008) has slowly improved but KC isn’t blessed with Willie Roaf, Brian Waters, and Will Shields anymore.  Castonzo is massive (6’7 305 lbs), experienced (4 year starter), durable (never missed a game, 54 straight starts), and versatile (played RT and LT for the Eagles).  Another school that produces solid O-Linemen, Castonzo would be the kind of pick who helps everyone else on the offensive side of the ball. 

#22) Indianapolis Colts- Nate Solder-OT, Colorado

Summary: 2007 2nd Round pick Tony Ugoh was nothing short of a major disappointment before he was cut by the Colts after the 2009 season and the Left Tackle position has been a revolving door ever since.  As great as Peyton Manning is, at 35 years old it would be smart for GM Bill Polian to continue getting his $100 million dollar investment as much protection as possible.  Indy only allowed 16 sacks on Peyton, but they ranked 29th in the NFL averaging only 93 rushing yards per game.  The 2011 Draft doesn’t have a group of offensive tackles like there was in last years’ draft (where 3 LT’s were picked in the top 11 picks) but there is plenty of value in players like Solder.  A converted tight end, Solder played over 50 games for the Buffalos and is often praised for having such light feet for a monster of a man at 6’8 315 lbs.  Has rare athleticism for the position (7% body fat, 4.88 40 time, 32 inch vertical leap) and his 35 ½ inch arm length should allow him to anchor the Colts O-Line for years to come.

#23) Philadelphia Eagles- Gabe Carimi-OT, Wisconsin

Summary: The Eagles definitely could look to CB’s Aaron Williams of Texas or Jimmy Smith of Colorado to fill the CB spot opposite Asante Samuels as their secondary was beat deep too many times in 2010, but it wasn’t hard to see watching Eagles games that as the season wore on, the wear and tear on QB Michael Vick had taken it’s toll and slowed him noticeably.  Even with Vick’s ability to scramble, Philly’s O-Line gave up 49 sacks last season, 29th in the NFL.  Winston Justice is just not a starting right tackle in this league and an upgrade to Carimi would pay dividends. Carimi, 6’7 327 lbs, is a great fit at RT and while he has the body, arm length, and fundamentals to be a top-end pass blocker, his #1 skill is as a mauling run blocker.  Another great O-Line product from Wisconsin who will quickly have a couple very big fans in Vick and RB Shady McCoy.

#24) New Orleans Saints- Mark Ingram-Running Back, Alabama

Summary: While I stated early that I don’t feel any RB in this class deserves a 1st Round grade, I’m also not handing Roger Goodell player names on index cards.  When the Saints dominated the NFL in 2009 their running game allowed the offense a ton of freedom to attack defenses through the air. Reggie Bush is still under contract, and at this point, he is what he is.  Pierre Thomas is a free agent, and though productive, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy and will probably move on.  Ingram gives the Saints a between the tackles hard nosed runner who takes pressure off the QB, WR’s, and even O-Line with his ability to make quick decisions and the vision to make up for his lack of top-end speed.  The 5’10 210 lbs 2009 Heisman Trophy Winner is a hard worker who will fit right in with the leadership in place in the Bayou. 

#25) Seattle Seahawks- Danny Watkins-Guard, Baylor

Summary: Well here it is…what you all scrolled down to see!!  I honestly believe Seattle wants to trade down in order to collect more picks and the #25 spot is a place teams will look at to move back into the 1st Round.  If they do end up keeping the pick, their first priority should be getting help on the offensive line and Watkins plugs a hole at Left Guard the Hawks have had since (brace yourselves) Tim Ruskell checked the wrong box on Steve Hutchinson’s contract.  Watkins is another fast riser who has only played football for 4 years.  A firefighter before getting recognized by a coach on a junior college campus, Watkins has freakish strength and he plays with a mean streak this team has lacked.  With the 6’4 310 lbs Watkins on board, Russell Okung, Watkins, Max Unger, and a free agent or 2, this team might actually throw something on the field resembling a big boy offensive line.  QB, CB, and OLB/DE will be addressed by Seattle as the draft rolls on. 

***Side Note*** - If QB Jake Locker slips past Jacksonville at #16, the Seahawks #25 pick will be a prime spot for teams who have targeted Locker to trade up to take him.  To the entire Seattle Seahawks fan base…please don’t revolt if Locker is taken by another team…in the draft spot Seattle occupies!! The O-Line is the way to go here and as long as Locker doesn’t go to Arizona or San Francisco, it might be best for him to get out of Washington and move on.  Just my opinion.  You can now continue hating me. 

#26) Baltimore Ravens- Jimmy Smith-CB, Colorado

Summary:  Rich getting richer.  CB’s Josh Wilson, who after being traded from Seattle continued his playmaking in Baltimore and Chris Carr are both solid players but they are also both free agents and neither are considered a true #1 corner.  Smith has character concerns but they have been quieting down as reports of Smith’s maturity are being recognized, and the Ravens have never had an issue taking players with some baggage.  That aside, Smith has everything you want in a CB including size (6’2 205 lbs), speed (4.46 40 at Combine), and swagger to burn.  Big 12 teams refused to throw even close to him as at one point during the 2010 season, on average teams had thrown to the WR he was covering fewer that 1 time per game. Because of this, his playmaking skills haven’t really been explored, but it’s a great fit for an already aggressive and talented defense. 

#27) Atlanta Falcons- Adrian Clayborn-DE, Iowa

Summary: Everyone and their mother seems to be predicting that Atlanta will be looking to take Notre Dame TE Kyle Rudolph, but it just doesn’t make sense to me to use a 1st Round pick on a player who is already coming off leg surgery and over 3 years played in 20 out of 29 games.  Clayborn fills a need at DE as 2007 #8 overall pick (and part time Ludacris impersonator) Jamaal Anderson has all of 4.5 sacks in his 4 year career.  Clayborn didn’t put up the numbers he did as a junior (20 TFL and 11.5 sacks), but for a team focused on making a run to the Super Bowl for the next 5 years getting a solid, ready to play now, disruptive defensive end is the way to go for the Falcons. 

#28) New England Patriots- Mikel LeShoure-RB, Illinois

Summary: Having gone with a OLB with their first 1st Round pick, the Patriots look to improve their running game with the 6’0 227 lbs LeShoure, who had the most single season rushing yards in Illini history with over 1,700 yds and 17 TD’s in 2010.  NE has 6 of the first 92 picks in the 2011 NFL Draft and can afford to take a player who has great upside and the ability to be a workhorse as he carried the ball 281 times during his junior season.  Luxury pick, but smart…as usual.

#29) Chicago Bears- Derek Sherrod-OT, Mississippi State

Summary: Let’s be real here… Bears QB Jay Cutler has as many skirts in his closet as Kim Kardashian and the more he’s on his back, the more irritating and pissy he gets.  I guess being pummeled 56 times by opponents would make me a little pissy too, but Cutler is obviously more productive when he can stand in the pocket longer than 2 seconds.  Sherrod (6’6 305 lbs) was a 3 year starter who played left tackle and right tackle in college but should fit in Chicago at Left Tackle.  A high character and highly respected player, Sherrod should hopefully give the Bears what they were looking for when they took Chris Williams with the 14th pick in the 2008 Draft.  Need pick but great value.

#30) New York Jets- Phil Taylor-Nose Tackle, Baylor

Summary: Experts agree that finding a nose tackle is very difficult but when one as gifted (and as large) as Taylor are available, draft position is ignored in order to get him.  Taylor is flying up draft boards (not sure how fast a 6’4 350 lbs man can fly) and for good reason…he is raw and will have to always be on top of his weight, but athletes this size with this much upside at a position difficult to fill is too much to pass up for the Jets who have to be tiring of seeing All-Pro NT Kris Jenkins in a suit on ESPN every year by the time October is over.  Another need pick that is met with a very solid player.

#31) Pittsburgh Steelers- Muhammad Wilkerson-DE/DT, Temple

Summary: The Steelers would love for one of the top 5 OT’s to slip to them at #30, but in this mock they have all been taken.  So what does a Pittsburgh team do when they don’t get what they want?  They continue to add to their infamous defense with a small-school player who has been seen in mock drafts going as high as 11th to Houston.  Aaron Smith is entering his 12th year, Casey Hampton his 10th, and Brett Keisel his 9th.  It’s time to find their replacements and a raw big time athlete like Wilkerson is a great fit for Dick LeBeau to play with before his impending retirement.  Wilkerson (6’5 305 lbs) is a penetrating pass rusher (9.5 sacks in ’10) who also plays with a mean streak that the Pittsburgh fans love and respect.

#32) Green Bay Packers- Justin Houston-OLB, Georgia

Summary: The 2010 Super Bowl Champs are boiling over with young talent on both sides of the ball and at this point, have the luxury to take players who are the best players on the board.  It just so happens that Houston also fits a need at OLB for the Packers defense opposite Pro Bowler Clay Matthews.  At 6’3 and 259 lbs, the productive Houston already has experience playing OLB (rush end) in a 3-4 defense and would bring explosiveness and raw power to an already loaded defense.  With so many other good players surrounding him a young player like Houston, who could play “pressure free”, could really explode and put up huge numbers in an NFC North littered with shaky offensive lines. 

So there is my complete 2011 1st Round NFL Mock Draft.  Please check back this Saturday after Day 1 and Day 2 (Rounds 1-3) are complete for full Seahawk coverage and some general notes and thoughts about the draft as a whole.  I’ve gotta go to sleep now cause the sooner you fall asleep the sooner you get to wake up and open your presents.  Draft is Friday @5pm…Happy Holidays!!

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