All the contributors are putting up their final 2011 NFL Mock Draft's today. We're having a little in-house competition to see who can get the most correct. We're grading on spot a player goes rather than matching them up with the team, because of trades, etc.
Anyway, here's mine.
1. Carolina Panthers - A.J. Green, WR, Georgia - While it's tempting to plug Cam Newton in here (I was one of the first to mock him No. 1, neener neener) I just don't believe the Panthers are sold enough to take him first overall. It's a massive gamble with any quarterback, really. Especially with one who has so many questions surrounding him. Green to me is one of the best players in the draft and it looks like Steve Smith is going to be a problem child once the league finally opens up for business.
2. Denver Broncos - Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama - John Elway is beginning a total reconstruction job of a team that Josh McDaniels destroyed. Elway is going to build from the inside out on a team who's making the transition back to a 4-3 defense from the short lived 3-4. In order to do that, Elway's going to need a stallwart in the middle of his defensive line. Marcell Dareus offers just that and would be a "safe" (I HATE THAT WORD) type of pick this high in the draft.
3. Buffalo Bills - Cam Newton, QB, Auburn - I talked to a couple of people who know the Bills before making this pick just to make sure I wasn't forcing it. Cam Newton however fits the kind of style offense Chan Gailey loves to employ. With Ryan Fitzpatrick being serviceable, Newton doesn't have to start immediately either. The Bills have been starved for a new franchise quarterback since Jim Kelly retired.
4. Cincinnati Bengals - Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU - While Blaine Gabbert would make a ton of sense right here, given the Carson Palmer situation, I'm just not feeling it. I believe the Bengals will continue to build upon the good defense they have going on, as Peterson can step in right away and replace potential free agent Jonathan Joseph.
5. Arizona Cardinals - Von Miller, LB, TAMU - This is another spot Blaine Gabbert makes sense, but I'm told the Cardinals brass thinks they have something in John Skelton. They also don't want to waste Larry Fitzgerald's prime years on another rookie quarterback, more so looking to add a veteran signal caller into the mix.
6. Cleveland Browns - Julio Jones, WR, Alabama - The Browns reportedly like Colt McCoy (barf) so the need some weapons for him outside of Peyton Hillis. They're a team that runs the football and runs a west-coast style offense. A player like Julio Jones played in exactly the same type of offense in college at Alabama. It just makes sense.
7. San Francisco 49ers - Robert Quinn, OLB, UNC - While the 49ers do need a quarterback, Jim Harbaugh might be able to work some magic with Alex Smith at the quarterback position. If not, his job is safe enough to where he can take his quarterback swing next season.
8. Tennessee Titans - Blaine Gabbert, QB, MIssouri - The Titans are in need of a new signal caller and Gabbert falling to them works out perfectly. He should start right away or can sit behind Kerry Collins if the Titans chose to go that route.
9. Dallas Cowboys - Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal - While an offensive lineman here would be ideal, the Cowboys haven't drafted an offensive lineman in the first round in almost as long as I've been alive. Jordan is a perfect fit in the Cowboys 3-4 defense and will be able to push for a starting job right away.
10. Washington Redskins - Jake Locker, QB, Washington - Locker has the mobility and the arm Shanahan likes in his offenses. The Redskins are said to want a quarterback in the first round and Locker might fall right in their lap.
11. Houston Texans - Aldon Smith, OLB/DE, Missouri - While I like Smith better as a down lineman, he has the ability to play standing up and on the line at times in the Texans new 3-4 defensive front. The Texans need pass rushers and Smith can offer that. Steph Stradley of the Houston Chronicle also noted the Texans would likely want to trade down from this spot.
12. Minnesota Vikings - Tyron Smith, OT, USC - While a defensive end makes a lot of sense here, the real big hole on the Vikings is on their offensive line. The left tackle position is a dire need. Phil Loadholt can be good enough at the right tackle position, but the Vikings need someone on the left side to protect whatever quarterback they throw out in 2011.
13. Detroit Lions - Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska- The Lions desperately need cornerback help and some will argue Prince is a better pure corner prospect than Patrick Peterson. Amukamara has the make up to start right away for the Lions dismal secondary.
14. St. Louis Rams - Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn - The Rams luck out with the drop of Nick Fairley. They lost the Julio Jones sweepstakes, but they also want to add to their defensive line. Adding a player like Nick Fairley will significantly upgrade their defensive front.
15. Miami Dolphins - Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida - While I'm tempted to give the Dolphins a quarterback at this spot, I don't think they're going to pull the trigger. While a bit high for a guard, Pouncey can start right away for the Dolphins and fits perfectly as the pulling guard the Dolphins are looking for.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars - Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada - While this will look like a total reach to some, make others groan, and others cheer I just have a feeling he's going to be the pick for the Jaguars. The Jaguars had new quarterbacks coach spend hours with Kaepernick working on watching film and doing play work on the board. If the Jaguars want their quarterback of the future, they'll likely need to get him at 16. Kaepernick would fall into a situation where he wouldn't have to play immediately and can sit and learn for a year..
17. New England Patriots - Ryan Kerrigan, OLB, Purdue - The Patriots still need to add some pass rushers to their defense. Kerrigan offers the role of a hybrid player in the Patriots defense. I feel he's best suited rushing the passer from the stand position as well, rather than with his hand on the ground.
18. San Diego Chargers - J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin - The Chargers need to add to their front seven and also want to replace Jacques Cesaire in the starting line up. Watt could come in and compete immediately for the starting defensive end position.
19. New York Giants - Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College - The Giants want to upgrade their offensive line as it's getting a bit long in the tooth. Castonzo is a starting swing tackle that can play on either side of the line, so he should be able to help the Giants right away.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa - It's no secret the Bucs want a pass rusher to add to their defensive line. While Clayborn is likely a left end in the NFL, he can play all three downs and in the 3-3-5 defense that Rahim Moore likes to run.
21. Kansas City Chiefs - Rodney Hudson, OG/C, FSU - A bit of a surprise, but Rodney Hudson fills an immediate need for the Chiefs who've got an aging interior offensive line. Casey Wiegmann is about 67 years old and Brian Waters play is beginning to taper off at the age of 33. Hudson is just as good an interior lineman prospect as Mike Pouncey and probably a better NFL center. Scott Pioli doesn't mind "reaching" for guys he thinks will be solid players for the long-term.
22. Indianapolis Colts - Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois - While the Colts certainly need some offensive line help, they also need help on the interior of their defensive line. Liuget would be an immediate starter on a small Colts defensive line.
23. Philadelphia Eagles - Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado - A perfect fit for the Philadelphia Eagles defense. While Smith has some off the field issues and attitude concerns, Andy Reid has never shied away from those types of players and has the locker room that could reel them in.
24. New Orleans Saints - Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson - Despite the fact that Bowers says his knee is fine, I feel he's going to fall like a rock in the draft. The Saints need an end opposite will Smith and Bowers could fill that role as long as the Saints feel he's healthy. They're also in a position to be able to take that kind of risk.
25. Seattle Seahawks - Christian Ponder, QB, FSU - There have been varying reports on who the Seahawks like and who they don't like at the quarterback position, but Ponder can compete right away for with Charlie Whitehurst.
26. Baltimore Ravens - Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State - The Ravens would love a cornerback at this spot, but one doesn't fit here really. It's a bit early for a guy like Brandon Harris and I'm not sure they opt for another pass rusher a year after taking Sergio Kindle. Heyward however, would fit right in on the Ravens defensive line.
27. Atlanta Falcons - Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh - While the Falcons would really like a defensive end, I'm not sure one fits here aside from Justin Houston, who tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Combine. The Falcons also need some more weapons in the passing game for quarterback Matt Ryan and Baldwin offers just that opposite Roddy White. Mike Smith should be able to reel Baldwin in and get him to realize his potential.
28. New England Patriots - Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama - The Patriots want to upgrade their running back position and this is the perfect spot to do so. The top running backs in the draft are kind of on the fringe of being first round picks, but Ingram fits perfectly here for the Patriots at the back end of round 1.
29. Chicago Bears - Marvin Austin, DT, UNC - While it's easy to peg someone like Derrek Sherrod at this spot, I don't think the Bears are very high on him. Austin however, is a value pick at 29 overall. He's a top tier talent, but his missing a whole season of football is forcing him down the board. He also fills in an immediate need with the loss of Tommie Harris.
30. New York Jets - Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA - Ayers is one of the most talented outside linebackers in a weak linebacker class, but Ayers is still a top 3-4 outside linebacker. He has some concerns with his effort for an entire game, but Rex Ryan should be able to get good play out of him. The Jets need a pass rush from their linebackers to further along their great defense.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers - Aaron Williams, CB/S, Texas - The Steelers reportedly love Aaron Williams, so I'm inclined to see him picked here. I don't really consider it that much of a reach and when you're the Steelers you can afford to make moves like this. The Steelers are getting long in the tooth at the corner position and are also looking for another safety, which a lot of folks feel Williams can play.
32. Green Bay Packers - Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin - The Packers hit up the Big 10 for an offensive tackle in last years draft getting right tackle Bryan Bulaga out of Iowa and I think they go right back to their home state to get offensive tackle Gabe Carimi. Carimi can likely play either side at the NFL level and the Packers need to inject youth into that offensive line.
The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft starts at 8 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, April 28th and SB Nation has everything you need to prepare for it - NFL mock drafts, draft