Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Brian Catanzaro's 2011 Two-Round NFL Mock Draft

This is Brian Catanzaro for the The Miami Dolphins Spotlight. I began contributing to this site in March 2011, and now that the lockout is.. ahem.. over.. I look forward to providing more commentary here!

Has someone told you that they know where Ryan Mallett, Jake Locker, Andy Dalton, Christian Ponder, Colin Kaepernick, and Ricky Stanzi are going? Do yourself a favor and ignore them. Everything is up in the air.

Think about it. Dalton was a late second/early third rounder last month, and has apparently risen a consideration for the Titans with the No. 8 pick. My question is.. WHY? And is it real? Is it a smoke-screen? Arrgghh!! 

Here is my two-round mock draft. There are a few shockers in comparison to consensus "Big Board," as you'll see...

First Round

1) Carolina Panthers select QB Cam Newton, Auburn* (6-5, 248)

Newton’s upside and superstar persona makes him the No. 1 pick of the 2011 NFL Draft. Believe it or not, the Panthers are an ideal landing spot for a rookie quarterback. They have a solid 1-2 punch at running back in Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson, three Pro Bowl-caliber linemen in Jordan Gross, Ryan Kalil, and Jeff Otah, and a young receiver tandem in David Gettis and Brandon LaFell that started to break out late last season.

2) Denver Broncos select DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama** (6-3, 319)

This already poor Broncos D cannot expect to stop the run or push the inside pocket with former Dolphin Kevin Vickerson, Marcus Thomas, and Ryan McBean as the incumbent top three defensive tackles. Dareus will be the first building block on this Broncos defense in need of a complete overhaul.

3) Buffalo Bills select OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M* (6-3, 246)

Let me get this out of the way first and foremost—I’m shocked that Von Miller is viewed as a top-five lock. His 28 sacks in ’09 and ’10 were impressive, no doubt, but I don’t see him running around slow-footed offensive tackles for 10+ sacks every season like he did in college. I grade him as a mid-first rounder, and I’ll look for him to be as underwhelming as I predicted with Glenn Dorsey and Aaron Curry. He’s a better fit as a weak side 4-3 outside linebacker, where he can protect his somewhat undersized lower body and use his speed, instincts, and tackling ability without an offensive tackle in front of him.

4) Cincinnati Bengals select WR A. J. Green, Georgia* (6-4, 208)
Green, Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell, and Jordan Shipley form a tremendous young wideout group that any quarterback will find attractive. Look for the Bengals to target a quarterback in the second round.

5) Arizona Cardinals select CB Patrick Peterson, LSU* (6-0, 219)

Blaine Gabbert is a popular projection here, but I see the Cardinals signing veteran quarterback Marc Bulger and continuing to develop second-year man John Skelton. The Cardinals have been known to draft king-sized athletes in the first two rounds, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Peterson is No. on their board. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Peterson, and Greg Toler give the Cardinals a great young trio of young corners.

6) Cleveland Browns select DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina* (6-4, 265)

Quinn may have been the No. pick if not for a benign brain tumor and an NCAA suspension that robbed him of his junior season after illegal contact with an agent. An elite athlete with sub 4.6 speed at 265 pounds, Quinn fits in perfect at defensive end in Dick Jauron’s 4-3 defense. The Browns are scary thin at both end and tackle.

7) San Francisco 49ers select QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri* (6-4, 234)

Even though Jim Harbaugh is saying all the right things about impending free agent quarterback Alex Smith, look for the team to take Gabbert at No. 7 even if he takes a full year or two to develop. In an NFC West as weak as any division in NFL history, grabbing a potential franchise quarterback sets the team up quite nicely for the future.

8) Tennessee Titans select DE Cameron Jordan, California* (6-4, 287)
Surprise! Word out Tennessee this morning is that the Titans are deciding between quarterback Andy Dalton and defensive tackle Nick Fairley for the No. 8 pick; I’m not buying it. Da’Quan Bowers and Nick Fairley have been falling, while Jordan has been pushing his way up into the top-10 as a three-down player with the versaility to move inside. With Quinn gone and defensive ends Jason Babin and Dave Ball (19.5 sacks last season) hitting the free agent market here, Jordan makes the most sense to me.

9) Dallas Cowboys select OT Tyron Smith,USC* (6-6, 307)

This USC product cemented himself as an early-to-mid first rounder when he walked into Lucas Oil Stadium at 307 pounds—27 pounds heavier than his USC listing. With great feet in pass protection and terrific strength for his size, he’s very similar to Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady if he can keep his weight above 300 pounds.

10) Washington Redskins select QB Jake Locker, Washington (6-2, 231)

Mel Kiper commented last year that Mike Shanahan would have taken Jake Locker with the No. 4 pick in the 2010 Draft had he come out as a junior. Did Kiper blurt out something Shanahan wanted to keep quiet this year?

11) Houston Texans select DE J. J. Watt, Wisconsin* (6-5-290)

Watt, whom Mike Mayock called “one of the best pure 3-4 defensive ends I’ve seen in a long time,” gives the Texans a building block for Wade Phillips’ new 3-4 defense. He can also move inside to defensive tackle when the Texans, as expected, show a few 4-3 looks.

12) Minnesota Vikings select WR Julio Jones, Alabama* (6-3, 220)

General manager Rick Spielman and head coach Leslie Frazier are pleasantly surprised to see Jones—a Sidney Rice clone—still on the board at No. 12. If Rice re-signs, he’ll form a great trio with Jones and Percy Harvin.

13) Detroit Lions select CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska (6-0, 206)

Amukamara’s ability to diagnose receiver routes is needed on this defense. If the team can re-sign Chris Houston and move Alphonso Smith (five interceptions in 12 games last year) to nickel back, this secondary will improve ten-fold.

14) St. Louis Rams select DT Corey Liuget, Illinois* (6-2, 298)

Time has run out for Gary Gibson and Darell Scott to step up at defensive tackle. Liuget’s ability to plug the inside on run plays makes him the pick over push-and-swim defensive tackle Nick Fairley. Steadily climbing up draft boards, Liuget is a solid two-way defensive tackle who can take advantage of one-on-one matchups next to nose tackle Fred Robbins.

15) Miami Dolphins select QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas* (6-7, 253)

Yep, they did it. Mallett’s off-the-field problems are well-documented, but lets give him the credit he deserves for learning Bobby Petrino’s NFL-style offense quickly after transferring from Michigan. Mallett’s proven work ethic trumps my concern regarding his recreational drug habits in college, and the Dolphins can’t put Chad Henne back at quarterback after Stephen Ross and Tony Sparano promised the Dolphins’ fanbase an offense that puts points on the board and takes shots downfield.

16) Jacksonville Jaguars select DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue (6-4, 267)

Although defensive tackle Tyson Alualu and Terrance Knighton are a solid young duo inside, defensive end is a concern after Jeremy Mincey led the team with just five sacks. Kerrigan is very similar to current Jaguar Aaron Kampman—a relentless pass-rusher with good size and more athleticism than he’s given credit for. It really would’ve been handy for Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves to live up their draft status right about now.

17) New England Patriots select DE Cameron Heyward, Ohio State (6-5, 294)

Bill Belichick reached for Richard Semyour in 2001 and Ty Warren in 2003 because they were perfect fits. Despite an underwhelming 2010, Heyward looks like a perfect 3-4 run defender in Belichick’s defense.

18) San Diego Chargers select OLB Brooks Reed, Arizona (6-2, 263)

General manager A. J. Smith makes a big reach here at No. 18 to get a Tasmanian-devil-like pass-rusher in the Clay Matthews mold. Shaun Phillips—one of four players with 7+ sacks-per-year since 2005, needs a running mate on the other side. Shawne Merriman, Larry English, Antwan Barnes, Jyles Tucker, and Antwan Applewhite have failed to eclipse 5.5 sacks in the last three years.

19) New York Giants select DT Nick Fairley, Auburn* (6-4, 291)

GM Jerry Reese always takes a big athlete in the first (Jason Pierre-Paul, Kenny Phillips, Hakeem Nicks, Aaron Ross, Mathias Kiwanuka) and would likely do the same if Fairley slipped to this spot. Fairley could free-fall if the Titans pass on him at No. 8 because only three teams picking between No. 9 and 18 run a 4-3 defense. Of those 4-3 teams, defensive tackle is far down on the “needs” list for the Lions and Vikings.

20) Tampa Bay Bucs select DE Aldon Smith, Missouri* (6-4, 263)

DE Stylez White led the Bucs with only 4.5 sacks last season. GM Mark Domenik and HC Raheem Morris are ecstatic to see this 20-year-old pass-rushing talent fall through the cracks.

21) Kansas City Chiefs select WR Torrey Smith, Maryland*(6-1, 204)

A wide receiver with Smith’s speed could be the missing pieces on an offense with Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, and Tony Moeaki already in place. Chris Chambers had a mere 21 catches, 213 yards, and one touchdown as the team’s No. 2 wide receiver.

22) Indianapolis Colts select OT Anthony Castonzo, Boston College (6-7, 304)

Try as he might, general manager Bill Polian hasn’t been able to provide Peyton Manning with a decent left tackle since three-time Pro Bowler Tarik Glenn retired in 2006. Holdover Charlie Johnson has done his best following the embarrassing bust of Tony Ugoh in the 2007 draft (Colts traded their ’08 first to move up from No. 126 to No. 42 in 2007 ), but Johnson is hardly a franchise left tackle. To make matters worse, starting right tackle Ryan Diem turns 32 this July.

23) Philadelphia Eagles select OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin (6-7, 314)

Andy Reid signed Jon Runyan to a 6-year, $30million contract in 2000, which made him the highest paid offensive lineman in NFL history at the time. Runyan responded with 160 consecutive starts, and made the Pro Bowl in 2002, which is difficult for a right tackle to do. Even though Carimi was a four-year starter at left tackle in college and has worked out at guard for a few teams, he’s very similar to Runyan. I see Carimi as a 10-year rock for the Eagles at right tackle and an immediate upgrade over Winston Justice.

24) New Orleans Saints DE Jabaal Sheard, Pittsburgh* (6-3, 267)

Sheard, who had nine sacks in his final nine games at Pittsburgh, is rising on draft boards. You can bet defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will be pounding the table for more playmakers in the front seven, as no Saints defender had more than six sacks last season. Sheard may also be able to play outside linebacker in certain alignments, adding to his versatility.

25) Seattle Seahawks select C/G Mike Pouncey, Florida (6-5, 303)

Look for Pouncey to immediately start at left guard and form a great nucleus with left tackle Russell Okung and right guard Max Unger. Pouncey, one of the safest picks in the first round with plug-and-play ability at all 3 interior line spots. Talk about bloodlines—his twin brother Maurkice Pouncey was third in votes for Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2010.

26) Baltimore Ravens select CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado* (6-2, 200)

Here-in lies the beauty of having Ray Lewis. Smith has all of the physical ability, but needs to play with more consistency on the field and more maturity off of it. Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, and Chris McAlister all had personality and/or consistency problems until they played on a team with Ray Lewis leading drills. If Lewis can get Smith’s attention, the Ravens could have a shut-down cornerback on their hands.

27) Atlanta Falcons DE Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson* (6-3, 281)

Bowers falls because he’s strictly a 4-3 player with a problematic knee. General manager Thomas Dmitroff can reward himself with a high-upside player here because the team has so few imminent needs. If healthy, Bowers will be expected to replace 33-year-old John Abraham as the team’s primary pass-rush threat by 2013.

28) New England Patriots OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State (6-6, 305)

Sherrod may not be as big an athletic as the four offensive tackles drafted above him, but he was every bit the college football player. The questions now will be, do the Patriots start Sherrod immediately at left tackle and should they slide Sebastian Vollmer over to the right side?

29) Chicago Bears DT Marvin Austin, North Carolina* (6-2, 309)

After being suspended for the 2010 season, Austin entered January’s pre-draft process as a mid-rounder who could only play in the East-West Shrine Game. Three months later, Austin is a no-brainer here at No. 30 with Matt Toeania and Henry Melton as the incumbent defensive tackles.

30) New York Jets select DT Phil Taylor, Baylor (6-3, 334)

Sione Pouha has done a fantastic job in place of oft-injured (and now released) Kris Jenkins at nose tackles over the last two years. Adding Taylor—one of the few mammoth defensive tackles in this class—allows the Jets to strengthen two positions by moving Pouha back to defensive end.

31) Pittsburgh Steelers DE Stephen Paea, Oregon State (6-1, 303)

 Mike Tomlin drafted Missouri defensive tackle Ziggy Hood in the first round two years ago after watching him put up 38 reps on the bench at press at 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds. Paea had 49 bench reps at 303 pounds and could be a perfect 3-4 defensive end.

32) Green Bay Packers select WR Randall Cobb, Kentucky* (5-11, 191)

This isn’t just your typical Super Bowl team getting greedy at the end of the first round, as James Jones is expected to leave as a free agent and Donald Driver approaching 37. Cobb—a poor-man’s Percy Harvin—will essentially be a starter in an offense that often goes five-wide. Cobb’s return ability also allows shutdown corner Tramon Williams and receiver Jordy Nelson to focus on their primary roles.

Second Round

33) Patriots – RB Mikel LeShoure, Illinois*
34) Bills – QB Christian Ponder, Florida St
35) Bengals – QB Andy Dalton, TCU
36) Broncos – DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa
37) Browns – CB Aaron Williams, Texas
38) Cardinals – LB Justin Houston, Georgia*
39) Titans – LB Akeem Ayers, UCLA*
40) Cowboys – TE Kyle Rudolph, Notre Dame*
41) Redskins – RB Mark Ingram, Alabama*
42) Texans – CB Brandon Harris, Miami (FL)*
43) Vikings – DT Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple*
44) Lions – OT Nate Solder, Colorado
45) 49ers – RB Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma St
46) Broncos – S Rahim Moore, UCLA*
47) Rams – LB Mason Foster, Washington
48) Raiders – QB Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
49) Jaguars - G Danny Watkins, Baylor
50) Chargers – G Ben Ijalana, Villanova
51) Bucs – CB Marcus Gilchrist, Georgia
52) Giants – RB Taiwan Jones, Eastern Washington*
53) Colts – DT Jurrell Casey, USC*
54) Eagles – QB Ricky Stanzi, Iowa
55) Chiefs – LB Chris Carter, Fresno St
56) Saints – RB Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon St*
57) Seahawks – WR Greg Little, North Carolina
58) Ravens – WR Edmond Gates, Abilene Christian
59) Falcons – WR Jerrell Jernigan, Troy
60) Patriots – G John Moffitt, Wisconsin
61) Chargers – OT Jah Reid, Central Florida
62) Bears – C Stefen Wisniewski, Penn St
63) Steelers – LB Dontay Moch, Nevada
64) Packers – CB Curtis Brown, Texas 

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