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Posted at 4:57 PM ET, 01/10/2011

Way earlier than necessary 2011 NFL mock draft

By Rick Nelligan

Welcome to my first 2011 NFL mock draft. In all actuality, this is probably the third one I’ve done so far this season so I could have some hope for the Redskins future, but this is the first one I’ve published. There will be more, so check back after important draft related dates for updates (i.e. after the Super Bowl, combine, pro days, etc.)

This mock is also all about what I think the teams should do, not what mistakes the teams will make or what any other expert thinks will happen. For better or worse, all of the picks are strictly from my brain. And for the sake of having fun, I’m going through until the Redskins pick in the second round as well.

Here are some answers to some of the things I know someone will post in the comments. Yes, I know doing mock drafts is absolutely pointless, especially this far out. I understand it is a sickness, but I like to have some sort of hope for the future (even though we tend to trade away our draft picks.) It’s something I’ve been doing for a few years and it’s a lot of fun to speculate.

I’d also love to know what you guys think will happen – who will go No. 1 with Andrew Luck staying at Stanford? Who will the Redskins pick? Who do you WANT the Redskins to pick? Chat it up Redskins Nation.

Round 1

1. Carolina Panthers – A.J. Green, WR – Georgia

Without Andrew Luck on the board, the best thing the Panthers can do is increase the talent around the young QB they do have following a season in which they averaged just 12 points per game.

2. Denver Broncos – Da’Quan Bowers, DE – Clemson

Bowers has the ability to fit into any defense. He’s the rare player that is able to combine elite athletic ability with an excellent knowledge and feel for the game.

3. Buffalo Bills – Cam Newton, QB – Auburn

I don’t believe that Newton is the best quarterback in the draft right now, but he is the most dynamic and could be the best overall in five years. He will need to sit for 2-3 years before starting to clean up his skills, but that will just give the Bills an opportunity to build around him with other high draft picks.

4. Cincinnati Bengals – Nick Fairley, DT – Auburn

Not a need pick, but the best overall player on the board at this time. It worries me that Fairley has only been able to dominate for one season so far, but he reminds me of Glenn Dorsey.

5. Arizona Cardinals – Ryan Mallett, QB – Arkansas

The Cardinals must draft or trade for a quarterback to keep Larry Fitzgerald happy, after he's hinted at requesting a trade if the QB situation doesn’t change. Mallett still needs to improve his maturity and decision making but has proven to be very coachable, improving greatly over the past three years.

6. Cleveland Browns – Julio Jones, WR – Alabama

Mike Holmgren seems like he wants to get more offensive. Much like the Panthers, the best thing he could do is to put dynamic talent around his young QB. Jones is the complete package as a WR and can break the big play along with the best of them.

7. San Francisco 49ers – Patrick Peterson, CB – LSU

The 49ers desperately need a quarterback to pair with their young playmakers, but Peterson is too good to pass up. He is a complete corner that can lock down in man coverage as well as step up and tackle in the run game. Plus, after hiring Harbaugh, could he be hoping for a little (Andrew) luck to get the number one pick next year to draft a QB?

8. Tennessee Titans – Blaine Gabbert, QB – Missouri

Jeff Fisher will be eager to put an emphatic end to the Vince Young era, so it’s likely the Titans go with a quarterback early on. I think Locker is a better QB than Gabbert, but I’d be surprised if he didn’t go with the pocket QB.

9. Dallas Cowboys – Gabe Carimi, OT – Wisconsin

Carimi is an excellent run blocker and a pretty good pass blocker. He will help Dallas be more physical on offense, which seemed to change their fortunes late in the season.

10. Washington Redskins – Robert Quinn, OLB – North Carolina

I’d be surprised if come draft day this pick isn’t Locker, but Quinn would be my pick. He missed last season after being suspended for receiving illegal benefits, but is a freak athletically in the mold of Brian Orakpo. If you put a guy that’s like Brian Orakpo across from a guy that is Brian Orakpo, that’s scary for opposing teams.

11. Houston Texans – Marcell Dareus, NT – Alabama

If the Texans switch to a 3-4 defense under Wade Phillips, they will need a space-eater in the middle. Dareus isn’t a traditional NT that pushes 400 pounds, but is more in the mold of Jay Ratliff of the Cowboys. Phillips seems to know how to use undersized NT’s.

12. Minnesota Vikings – Jake Locker, QB – Washington

The Vikings have little to no choice but to acquire a quarterback this offseason, whether by trade or through the draft. Early in his career, Locker was tabbed as the “West Coast Tebow,” which just about sums it up. He has better mechanics than Tebow at this point in his career, but still hasn’t really broken out as a passer.

13. Detroit Lions – Nate Solder, OT – Colorado

I’m not sold on Solder, but after seeing their franchise quarterback not be able to finish the season for the second consecutive year due to injury, it’s time to do a little more to protect their investment.

14. St. Louis Rams – Justin Blackmon, WR – Oklahoma State

Bradford desperately needs a playmaker to grow with, and Blackmon is just that. He can run all of the routes and has great hands. He's been on par with Green and Jones this season, but has only been able to put up this kind of production for one season thus far.

15. Miami Dolphins – Mark Ingram, RB – Alabama

A team that prides itself on smash-mouth football was only 21st in the NFL last season at running the football. With Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown breaking down, Ingram will be able to provide a breath of fresh air in South Beach.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars – Prince Amukamara, CB – Nebraska

A top10 pick in any other draft, but this one is stacked with supreme talent. It will be a blessing for the Jags if Amukamara falls this far though, because he has elite corner written all over him. His speed isn’t among the best, but his fundamentals more than make up for it and he is very physical.

17. New England Patriots (from OAK) – Von Miller, OLB – Texas A&M

Miller is a converted defensive end who has taken well to the linebacker position. The Pats could use an explosive pass rusher off the edge. And with all due respect to Rob Ninkovich, when your starting outside linebacker’s name is Ninkovich, it’s time for an upgrade.

18. San Diego Chargers – Cameron Heyward, DE – Ohio State

Heyward was absolutely dominating against Arkansas, and the way he will shine at the combine will only further elevate his draft stock.

19. New York Giants – Ryan Williams, RB – Virginia Tech

With the Giants likely losing Brandon Jacobs, and possibly an injury-plagued Ahmad Bradshaw, they will need another running back. Williams had a stunning freshman season, and shared time between two other running backs last year. His overall skill set easily rivals Ingram’s though.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Adrian Clayborn, DE – Iowa

Had a down season after a dominant junior season, but Clayborn is a low risk, high reward pick. The Bucs could use a young guy coming off the edge to pair with Gerald McCoy.

21. Kansas City Chiefs – Ryan Kerrigan, OLB – Purdue

Pair Kerrigan up with the player with the second most sacks in the NFL (Tamba Hali) and they can be a dangerous duo.

22. Indianapolis Colts – Drake Nevis, DT – LSU

Nevis fits into the Colts mold of quick guys along the defensive line, but also brings the nastiness that they lack along the front four to stack up against the run.

23. Philadelphia Eagles – Tyron Smith, OT – USC

It’s time to replace Winston Justice on the right side, and Smith is a physical specimen as an offensive lineman. He's still raw, but is the athletic lineman they will be looking for to pair up with Vick.

24. New Orleans Saints – Daniel Thomas, RB – Kansas State

The top defensive back is also a big possibility here, but I’d be surprised if the Saints weren’t sick and tired of relying on undrafted free agents to carry their running game. Thomas is a huge running back that can run with the best of them. Very underrated.

25. *Seattle Seahawks – Allen Bailey, DE – Miami (FL)

I had Janoris Jenkins here, but he just announced he's staying at Florida. Bailey still needs some development, but has a set of very good raw tools and the Seahawks could use some young talent at defensive end.

26. *Green Bay Packers – Mike Pouncey, C – Florida

Pouncey could be the most talented overall offensive lineman in the draft and can play all three interior spots. If you give Rodgers even more time to throw, it could be downright scary for the league. Pouncey could easily go before this pick though.

27. *New York Jets – Rodney Hudson, OG – Florida State

Rex Ryan is clearly frustrated with the play of the interior of his offensive line considering they haven’t been nearly as effective running the ball the second half of the season. Hudson is a guy that can step in and start immediately.

28. *Baltimore Ravens – Brandon Harris, CB – Miami (FL)

Continuing with the Ravens tradition of drafting defensive players from the “U”, Harris is a little raw, but is a playmaking defensive back for a defense in need of them. Will fit right in in Baltimore.

29. *Chicago Bears – Anthony Costanzo, OT – Boston College

Even though their protection improved as the season went on, the Bears still clearly need an upgrade along their offensive line. Costanzo should be able to step in and play immediately.

30. *Pittsburgh Steelers – Derek Sherrod, OT – Mississippi State

The Steelers need to put an end to the rotation of old, injury plagued offensive tackles. Sherrod may not be ready immediately but he will be soon and would provide nice depth when Pittsburgh's tackles inevitably get injured.

31. *Atlanta Falcons – Torrey Smith, WR – Maryland

The Falcons could really use another playmaker on offense to take the heat off of Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. Smith is far from a complete WR yet, but he's explosive enough to do produce early on in his career. If Gonzalez retires though, Kyle Rudolph would likely be the pick.

32. *New England Patriots – Jonathan Baldwin, WR – Pittsburgh

While the Pats receivers are more than capable of handling the load, Baldwin could take some of the pressure off as a big WR in the red zone. Baldwin is ultra-talented, but has struggled at Pitt and reminds me of James Hardy. I suspect the Pats would be able to get the most out of him, but in the end, do we really expect Belichik to do anything other than trade this pick for more draft picks?

Round 2

33. Carolina Panthers – Kyle Rudolph, TE – Notre Dame

34. Buffalo Bills – Ras-I Dowling, CB – Virginia

35. Cincinnati Bengals – Rahim Moore, S – UCLA

36. Denver Broncos – Marvin Austin, DT – North Carolina

37. Cleveland Browns – Jeremy Beal, OLB – Oklahoma

38. Arizona Cardinals – Bruce Carter, ILB – North Carolina

39. Tennessee Titans – J.J. Watt, DE – Wisconsin

40. Dallas Cowboys – Dont’a Hightower, ILB – Alabama

41. Washington Redskins – Greg Little, WR – North Carolina

Another WR to look at is Michael Floyd, but he reminds me too much of Malcolm Kelly. I’d also love to go offensive or defensive line here, but I just don’t see any available at this point that fit the Redskins scheme.

Now, a few disclaimers. Obviously, in no way, shape or form am I an expert. I’m just a college kid who loves the NFL Draft. I’m also doing this before the deadline date for underclassmen to declare for the draft, which is still about a week away. But for the most part, everyone I’ve listed has either already declared, or I’d be shocked if they didn’t. If they end up not coming out, I apologize. A lot of these picks will also change by way of free agency and trades whenever the NFL decides to get its act together and get a new Collective Bargaining Agreement done.

Also, I’m not predicting what will happen in the playoffs, just seeding based upon record, etc., for the rest of the playoffs. For the record though, I have the Falcons taking it all.

So let’s hear what you think Redskins Nation...

By Rick Nelligan  | January 10, 2011; 4:57 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins, Rick Nelligan  | Tags:  Redskins, Rick Nelligan  
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Next: NL East position rankings: first base


Great observations, Rick! A teams draft selections are as much about team philosophy and vision as it is acquiring talent. If you're right, The 'Skins are hoping to clarify their vision through some means other than the draft.

Both Quinn, and Little are talents, but they might as well just draft Kenny Tate, and Torrey Smith from Maryland. It would be great to see your Mock choices through the grid of team philosophy, but you've got plenty of time to do that. Good work...for a Tar Heel guy!

Posted by: MadSkully | January 10, 2011 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Haha, thanks Skully, but I'm far from a Tar Heel guy, it just kind of happened that way. I'm a HUGE Terps fan, as I am the Terps blogger for Box Seats. Quinn and Little are both just monsters. Quinn reminds me of Brian Orakpo as I said, and Little reminds me of Anquan Boldin.

I love Torrey Smith and Kenny Tate. But Tate hasn't officially entered the draft yet from what I've seen, and I desperately hope he stays. He's a little too raw for me to go in the first round right now, he hasn't shown he's elite in coverage yet, only close to the line of scrimmage. And Smith is tight, but I don't think he fits the Redskins needs at WR.

Posted by: gnelligan1 | January 10, 2011 8:19 PM | Report abuse

This is the worst mock draft I've seen. It's just one man's opinion. Lets leave it to the pros.

Posted by: gandorfdapirate | January 10, 2011 9:06 PM | Report abuse

I'll give you that Skins 1st round pick it'll be a defensive play maker however look for a QB in the second round Pat Devlin-Delaware

Posted by: papaskynz | January 11, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Carolina would never go WR 1st, they just took Lafell and Edwards last year with high picks and still have Steve Smith.

Posted by: theskinnypost | January 11, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

If the Redskins draft Newton or Locker, you can expect another 10 years of losing. Shanahan is infatuated with Locker and that's the scariest thing I've heard so far. Locker can't hit the ocean from a row boat.

Posted by: lp_lodestar | January 11, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Just to respond to a few of the comments...

Pirate - That's cool if you hate my mock, I don't get paid thousands to make it like the so called "experts." But tell me why, tell me where you think it's wrong. Mock's are all about having fun and speculating. Where did I go wrong and who do you like?

Papaskynz - I do kind of like Pat Devlin, but admittedly I haven't watched a whole lot of Delaware games this year, so I don't like to go off of what other people write and say as much as I possibly can avoid it. If he's able to stack up when he gets to the combine and his pro-day though, I definitely think it could be a possibility.

Skinnypost - The guys you mentioned are the reason why I believe they would absolutely go with a WR number 1 if they went for offense. LaFell is alright, but hasn't exactly done much yet. Neither has Edwards. And Steve Smith wasn't exactly quiet about how much he didn't like Clausen last year. I'd be surprised if he was still in Carolina next year barring a major attitude change. Not even counting how injury prone he has been lately. Plus, the one player they can draft to step in and help Jimmy Clausen is Green, and he obviously needs help.

Posted by: gnelligan1 | January 11, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

i don't think the redskins will take a lb with their first pick. the panthers will take the clemson kid, thats a safe choice and their next julius peppers.

Posted by: miked4 | January 11, 2011 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Redskins 1st Round Pick - Best Player Available. Fairley, Dareus, or even Peterson I'd be absolutely fine with.

2nd Round Pick - Since we whiffed on Clay Matthews, why not try Casey Matthews? We need an ILB that can cover the backs and TEs, and he fits that mold. Casey Matthews, please.

Posted by: mjsciann1 | January 11, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

If the Buffalo Bills draft Cam Newton, they will continue to be the Buffalo Bills.

Posted by: redhotCAPSaicin | January 11, 2011 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Perfect world within reason right?
1.Trade Albert get 4th
2.Trade Mcnabb get 3rd
3.Sign V Jackson wr chargers
4.Sign 1 of these D. lutui ARZ or E mathis
CIN Guards.
5.Sign Tavares Gooden inside LB ravens
6. First round Jones or Blackmon WR's
7. Second round Best available defensive player. Jeremy Beal OLB OK or jordan DE
8. third round M. pouncy guard FLA
9. fourth round Andy dalton
10.5th round fitzpatrick center TCU
11.6th round Ian Willims NT Notre dame
12.7th round tejay johnson FS TCU
UFA's Mikel Leshoure RB ILINI, Steven FRiday DE/OLB Va tech
This is a start. Grossman would be much better with more weapons and better interior line. This would improve Defense.
Williams can flat out play NT in a 3-4.
Gooden , Friday, Johnson bring speed and aggressiveness to defense.
Anybody else wanna try I might be missing an extra pick RD 6 or 7

Posted by: joeortega4 | January 11, 2011 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Well one concern. Orakpo struggles in pass coverage, now he may get better since this is only his second year but it was a big concern. Is this kid from North Carolina better?

Just a sidenote...the Panthers do not have the 33rd pick in the draft, they traded it to the Patriots :)

Posted by: Killerangel81 | January 11, 2011 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Again to respond to a few of the comments.

Miked - Honestly, after the Panthers named Ron Rivera as their next HC today, I'd actually be kind of surprised if they didn't go for Bowers. But at the same time, I think Clausen desperately needs help on that offense if he's going to be successful. I don't think Clausen is a good QB, but they have to at least give him a chance to succeed.

mcsciann1 - If I had my preference for the Redskins first round pick, I say trade down for a lower first and third or fourth or something in order to gain multiple draft picks. This draft seems to be loaded at multiple positions. In this scenario, I still say Quinn is the best available player and we should take him, he will be a monster. But out of the guys you mentioned, I have serious doubts that either Fairley or Peterson would be there. And I'd take Quinn over Dareus since last year, teams slid their protections to whichever side Orakpo was coming from. In due time, Quinn would put that to an abrupt halt. And if Casey Matthews is anything like his brother, I'd take him in a heartbeat, I like that pick alot. Good mention.

RedhotCAP - If they take Cam and have plans of starting him within two years, then they will continue to be the Bills. But if they take the time to groom him and surround him with talent, the Bills could be on the rise just as the Patriots dynasty could be on the decline.

Joeortega - I like your outlook alot, and I'd be pretty surprised if Haynesworth and McNabb couldn't bring those kinds of picks. I don't like taking a WR in the first round though. The Redskins need entirely too much help on the offensive line and defensive front 7, arguably the two most important spots (other than QB obviously) on any football team. I'd have more confidence in the Redskins finding a Mike Wallace type in the late rounds like the Steelers did rather than finding an o-lineman or defensive front 7 player in the later rounds.

Killerangel - First of all, I can't believe I missed that tidbit about the 33rd pick, my bad. Great call on that though. But yes, Orakpo does struggle in pass coverage, but he's more than athletic enough to become at least servicable if not very good in pass coverage. As you said, it's just going to take time and repitions for him to become better.

Keep it coming everyone, I love to see the comments, positive and negative. I try and check them every so often, so if you have anything to say or call me out on, let me know.

Posted by: gnelligan1 | January 11, 2011 10:02 PM | Report abuse

I was thinking get julio jones in the first round and maybe devlin in the second round. If not that maybe Locker, sure he has lost his confidence but shanahans great with qb's. Then in the second round get the best available wide reciever. The rest could be handled with free agency I think.

Posted by: gagesilling | January 12, 2011 1:29 PM | Report abuse

skins need to drop back out the 10 spot for more picks,trade albert for 4th,McNabb for 4th,cooly 2or3rd and take troy smith ol 1st than 2nd take rahim moore s with other 2nd pick take an DE or OLB 3rd then you grab that pouncy other late 3rd the QB from Nevada the other picks from the trades OL,WR,CB,get players that will help the 3-4. you may think that trading cooley is wrong but Fred davis is a better blocker and he much faster

Posted by: skinsforlife2 | January 12, 2011 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Since this is all speculation, I'd love to see the 'Skins deal down and grab Pouncey, then take a NT in round 2. They need help on the interior of both lines. In reality, I think they reach and take Locker, who has bust written all over him, and I don't mean at Canton, and take an offensive lineman or DB in round 2.

Posted by: | January 14, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

We should go for the Corner Back from Nebraska, and sign Asoumgha.

Posted by: Dash10 | January 17, 2011 7:47 PM | Report abuse

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