2011 NFL Mock Draft: What if Panthers Choose Gabbert?

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Generally speaking at this point in time unlike most drafts I’m not looking to accurately predict what will happen in the draft. But what I do enjoy looking at are some of the more likely, of the myriad of possibilities, that will interest teams. Because of that I try to make unique selections for the team in each mock I make. I will eventually have an official mock draft which can be used against me in a court of public opinion (I’ve submitted our names to The Huddle Report, hopefully they’ll accept it), but until then I’ll continue to explore the open world of the draft, which is why it is so fun. Though since we’re coming into the home stretch my mocks will begin to take a “more likely” route for many teams that I feel will only go in a few options, which this mock does, while still offering a few different takes.

1. Carolina Panthers-Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

So far in this mock draft process I’ve taken a look at  as Cam Newton, Marcel Dareus, A.J. Green, and Da’Quan Bowers number one options for the Carolina Panthers. Our Panthers insider Bill Voth who works for a Charlotte newscast as a sports anchor told me that the feeling in Panthers land is that Panthers are looking for a reason NOT to draft Cam Newton right now otherwise he seems likely to go first overall. Maybe that reason could be the more traditional breed of quarterback in Blaine Gabbert, a prospect many feel is superior to Cam Newton (Todd McShay, ESPN K.C. Joyner, and Mike Mayock all have Gabbert higher than Newton. K.J. Joyner doesn’t  even think Newton is worth a first round pick). Maybe Gabbert can change the Panthers mind. about Newton.

I think it may ultimately be Da’Quan Bowers provided the Panthers aren’t worried about his knee injury or Cam Newton if they don’t find a reason not to draft him. I’ve never felt, and this is why I’ve yet to mock him there, that Nick Fairley or Patrick Peterson would end up with the Panthers.

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

Though my core philosophy is to explore many different picks for teams I’ve been kind of stead-fast here with the Broncos mocking them Dareus, and Bowers, though I accidentally left out Fairley. Bowers is a monster and can’t make it much further down then here if it weren’t for his knee injury. Bowers was absolutely ridiculous this past season and has great potential. Pretty good DL are more important then very good Cornerbacks, which is why I felt the Broncos would never be able to justify grabbing a cornerback #2 overall, even if he was the best player in the draft.  Sayre, thinks the Broncos really like Peterson as their top choice or second choice, we’ll see.

3. Buffalo Bills-Marcel Dareus, DL, Alabama

Surprisingly I’ve yet to mock the Bills Dareus, but that’s more because as I’ve reiterated that Bills have Kyle Williams, signed Dwan Edwards to a decent contract and drafted Troupe and Carrington last season so I thought they would shy away from the Dline, but I can’t rule it out completely. In an interview I had with BuffaloRumblings head editor Brian Galliford he said that Chain Gailey has been stead fast that the team will run multiple fronts, which makes me think Dline is more of a possibility than I initially thought, though I still think they will go in a different direction DT. Bowers/Quinn/Von Miller/QB all make a lot of sense for the Bills because the Bills MUST find someone to rush the passer, and someone who is a franchise passer, if they want to win consistently.

4. Cincinnati Bengals-Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

The Bengals are one team I really think could consider an OL (early on in the process I predicted they would trade down and draft Gabe Carimi). In my full 7 round team mock I made sure they added a punishing runner and run blocker to fill a much under publicized need. Two years ago the Bengals did an excellent job of pounding the football with a tough OL and Bensons’ hard nose running, but last year the running game regressed and the Bengals in turn lost a lot of games. With that being said, Fairley is an explosive interior linemen and while the Bengals DT are pretty good they could still be upgraded here.

5. Arizona Cardinals-Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

Robert Quinn, Tyron Smith, and Von Miller are all other picks I’ve explored so far for the Cardinals. I’ve felt that the Cardinals wouldn’t take a QB in the draft because Wisenhunt might not feel he has enough job security to get by for two or three losing seasons while one of the raw QB in this draft class develop.  I’m not ruling it out, I just find it less likely then other people think. Improving their defense is a huge priority, more important than improving the cornerback position is the DE, Rush OLB hybrid player the Cardinals are looking for in their multiple look front. With that being said, I’m going to mock them Peterson here because he’s a dynamic player and can also help improve their pass defense. On top of that he could help out with the punt return game which the Cardinals struggled with last season.

6. Cleveland Browns-A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

Fairley, Bowers, Jones are all other possibilities I’ve explored so far for the Browns. I think with the type of offense that Colt McCoy is best suited for that Julio Jones who can really rack up the yards after the catch is a better fit, but you can’t rule out A.J. Green’s pure talent. There’s a lot of reports that say A.J. Green could now be taken after Julio Jones in the draft, which I think is possible, but that also might be over-reaction to the combine. A.J. Green at one time was considered our best prospect in the draft (we’re currently re-evaluating our big board) and shouldn’t fall much further then here, if he even makes it this far in the draft.

7. San Francisco 49ers-Robert Quinn, OLB, North Carolina

One of our readers said that the 49es would be very interested in Robert Quinn, which is not something I had considered a lot, but something I really like so I will go with it here.  Manny Lawson is a free agent and shouldn’t be retained by the 49ers because he is never going to develop into the pass rusher they thought he would. That’s not to say he’s not a good player because he clearly is a very good all around player. But the 49ers need a pass rusher and will look for one in the draft or in free agency. Quinn has tremendous talent and if his character checks out could easily be a top 5-10 pick.

previous picks: Peterson, Dareus, Von Miller

8.Tennessee Titans-Von Miller, LB, Texas A & M

I think the Titans could go a million different ways in this draft.  One thing the Titans need to do is improve their linebacker corps. Von Miller is the best player available on many big boards here and might not be able to make it past the Cardinals at 5th overall. Von Miller has displayed great fluidity in his hips and potential to be a very good coverage guy and flexible enough to play OLB in a 4-3. The Titans could jump at the chance of adding another Julian Peterson in his prime (Peterson had 10+ sacks playing OLB in a 4-3 in Seattle) at this point in the draft and might not be able to pass up the B.P.A. that also fills a big need.

Other picks: Gabbert, A.J. Green, Prince Amukamara, Akeem Ayers

9. Dallas Cowboys-Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

I think that the Dallas Cowboys will seriously consider moving up for Patrick Peterson if he makes it to Arizona and definitely will if he falls to Cleveland. With the Browns sitting at 6 and only having to move down three spots, I think they will jump at the chance to move down three spots and still most likely get either A.J. Green or Julio Jones at 9. In this scenario the Cowboys eschew the Offensive line in favor of a top player. Prince has always been considered a top ten player, except for a brief two week period where people thought Amuakamara might be slow. But lo and behold he’s not. The Cowboys need to upgrade their secondary and with Peterson available here they can’t pass it up.

Previous picks: Solder, Tyron Smith, Von Miller, Cameron Jordan

10. Washington Redskins-Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

The Redskins play in the N.F.C. East and watch the Giants pepper the ball all over the field (before they turned it over) to Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, and Steve Smith. The Eagles bomb the ball to Jackson or Maclin, and Jerry World erupt when Dez Bryant makes another spectacular catch or runs over 11 defenders on his way to a 50 yard touch down scamper, all the while they throw 10 yard down an in passes to Santana Moss. Sure, Moss is a good player, but the Redskins have to up the ante if they want to compete with the explosive offenses in their division.

Previous picks: Locker, Amuakmara, Gabbert

11. Houston Texans-Tyron Smith, T, USC

Just because Wade Phillips has become the new defensive coach, and the defense wasn’t great last year doesn’t guarantee the Texans will address the defense in the first round, even if it is likely or we think they should. The Texans might feel that a player like Tyron Smith has too much upside to avoid at this point in draft as they look to get a dominant offensive line, which they have struggled to do despite deploying skilled position players all over the field.

Previous picks: Phil Taylor, Aldon Smith, Robert Quinn, Julio Jones

12. Minnesota Vikings-Nate Solder, T, Colorado

The Vikings need a QB, but they also need help along the offensive line and the Vikings have shown that they like the bigger OL (Mckinnie and Loadholt are some big, big men). Cam Newton or Ryan Mallett are possibilities here, but in this mock they choose to fix the offensive line with a player that it seems teams are falling in love with in Solder who has great size and is very athletic.

13. Detroit Lions-Brandon Harris, CB, The U

Some people will think this is a reach, but I don’t. Harris is an excellent and fluid cornerback who is a top ten talent to me and reminds me very much of a college Darrelle Revis. I’m not saying he’ll become the next Darrelle Revis, I’m saying a large part of what makes Revis so good now is that he is a competitor like Harris, but more importantly Revis is extremely fluid in his hips which allows him to mirror WR in man coverage. Revis is a little taller and strong than Harris, but they are similar kind of players to me and the Lions could do a lot worse than grabbing Harris at this point.

14. St. Louis Rams-Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal

Jordan will remind Spags a ton of Justin Tuck as a 4-3 LDE that can stop the run and also rush the passer, and can come inside at DT to rush the passer as well. The Rams Dline played well last year, but the line has a lot of age with Hall and Fred Robbins nearing the end of their careers. The Rams really need a WR, a TE, Some interior Offensive linemen, CB help and linebackers, but those players are all reaches at that point or big character concerns (Smith or Baldwin).

15. Miami Dolphins-Ryan Mallett, QB, Miami

I’ve been consistently putting Mallett in the second round, but thought I’d bring him in line with his talent for once.  I don’t want to get in whether or not Mallett has character issues because quite frankly I don’t know if he does or not. The Media hated Mallett’s media interview, but I doubt the Miami Dolphins were taking the media interview into any consideration when considering Mallett. Maybe Mallett blew them away in his personal team interview. And that’s all that matters. Mallett’s arm is tremendous, but his release is a little slow (once it leaves his hand he makes up for some of that with tremendous zip on the ball) and he’s not great at standing in the pocket to take a hit and can be forced into bad decisions, but he can make all of the throws and is very talented. The Dolphins want to be able to stretch the field more and are turned off by Henne’s reluctance to fling the ball around, that won’t be a problem with Mallett.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars-J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin

I think either J.J. Watt or Cameron Jordan will go top 12, but not both. Whichever one doesn’t go there could be a serious option for the Jaguars here. The Jaguars will love that both players can play the run and rush the passer and that both players are relentless and have no character concerns.

17.New England Patriots-Aldon Smith, OLB, Missouri

The Patriots might consider a Safety early in this draft with the report that came out that Merriweather may have shot two people. but in this instance they can’t pass up the explosive Aldon Smith at 17.

18. San Diego Chargers-Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

The Chargers are so loaded with talent already they can spend this entire draft picking the best player on their board and still compete next year. All they have to fix for next year is their special team unit and starting the season fast and they’ll be fine.

19. New York Giants-Martez Wilson, LB, Illinois

In this scenario the Giants go with the higher risk higher reward linebacker prospect. When I interviewed Ed Valentine of Big Blue View, he mentioned that one of the things that NFL people have told him that for linebackers is that a good size to speed ratio is very important to them. Well Akeem Ayers didn’t run great at the combine, but Martez Wilson did. linebacker is probably the Giants biggest need, and while Wilson may seem like a reach here, people thought the same about JPP and the Giants love athletes. Other than JPP, they were heavily rumored to be interested in Darrius Heyward Bey (they are counting their blessings they ended up with Nicks instead) and also took Will Beatty a raw talented player (and it surprises me how many people dismiss him so quickly, he’s very talented and was raw a few years to learn the position was expected). All of these players are high-upside players. Even though Ingram is hard to pass up here, they’ll love Wilson’s speed, size, and ability to rush the passer and select him 19th overall over Ayers, Ingram, and OL help.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Justin Houston, OLB/DE Georgia

A better football player than he is an athlete. Houston can play OLB or DE in a 4-3 scheme, especially for what the Buccaneers are looking for and that is a RDE that is a pass rusher first and foremost and not as big a concern is the run stopping from this position. Houston is the same size as many of the RDE in the league and is a talented pass rusher, even if he didn’t show that at the combine.

21. Kansas City Chiefs-Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor

I’ve been going back and forth with reader Andy on this. I don’t like the Chiefs taking Taylor in the first round just for the sake of plugging the NT hole, but they took Jackson just because he thought he’d fit the system even though they had to pass on much better players. But I think it’s a definitive possibility. Ayers is also a possibility. In this scenario I believe the Chiefs should take Mark Ingram to replace Thomas Jones.  The Chiefs are already less talented then the Chargers they don’t need to be spending time plugging their needs. But that’s just my own personal draft philosophy.

22. Indianapolis Colts-Anthony Castanzo, OT, Boston College

Castanzo seems to be the scouts favorite for best OT if you read people with insider information in the blogo-sphere. So much so that he might actually be the first OT taken in the draft (supposedly the Lions really like Castanzo, more so than Solder). Gabe Carimi continues to say he’s the best OT (and PFT reports that Carimi has been told by Scouts he’s the best OL), and then Tyron Smith and Nate Solder’s upsides make people say they are the best OT. Whatever the case may be it seems, to me, that Castanzo might be the best fit in the Colts system and they can’t pass him up here.

23. Philadelphia Eagles-Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

Terrific talent with some “diva/character concerns”. Smith rubs people the wrong way, and skipped combine work outs (reportedly), but the Eagles feel they can control attitude problems and can’t pass up on Smith’s here. Smith has been taken off a lot of people’s boards according to various reports, but I’m not sure he’d be off the Eagles board.

24. New Orleans Saints-Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

I love Mark Ingram’s game even though many people are kind of down on him, I still think he’s a stud and a steal here at 24th overall.  The Saints might eventually cut Bush’s big contract because he can’t stay healthy. I realize they resigned Pierre Thomas, but the Saints haven’t been opposed to adding talented offensive weapons despite already having plenty since Sean Peyton became the coach. Ingram can catch the football out of the backfield and also run it which will intrigue the Saints. He’s great value here.

25. Seattle Seahawks-Derrick Sherrod, T, Mississippi State

In this mock I’m going to let Jake Locker slide into the second round (though it seems likely that some QB needy team could make a push to grab him in the first round by trading up, or that the Seahawks will nab him here).  I find it likely that there will be at least 3 Quarterbacks drafted in the first round this year. The Seahawks need to find a RT of the future as Sean Locklear is not the solution in the long run.

26. Baltimore Ravens-Gabe Carimi, RT, Wisconsin

It’s being reported that the Ravens are seriously looking at players to add at tackle if there is one available in the first round. What separates the best tackle in the class from the rest of the possible first round picks is essentially very little.

27. Atlanta Falcons-Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA

The Falcons linebackers aren’t great even though they drafted Weatherspoon last year they could consider Ayers here because Ayers can play the SAM position, but also put his hand on the ground and rush the passer from the RDE position in 3rd and long situations, which he has done at times in college. Ayers plays faster in games than he does on the stop watch and I don’t think his slow 40 will be such an issue because he still moved well in drills.

28. New England Patriots-Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh

I love Rahim Moore and his ball-hawking skills, but I keep reading and reading and reading that scouts don’t think Moore is anything more than a 3rd round pick, which is surprising to me and not something that I really buy, but perhaps it’s possible.  Merriweather shooting two people (if true) could put Safety in the conversation here. Like the Eagles, the Patriots have added “character issues/concerns” effectively because of the leadership in their locker room and at the head coaching position. Some teams can take on Problem players and some can’t. The Patriots can. Baldwin is very talented and while he doesn’t fit a dire need, he’d make the offense even more explosive and with 200 picks over the next two rounds the Pats can go B.P.A. here.

29. Chicago Bears-Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

Russ Lande keeps putting Liuget in the top 10, which I don’t get. But if teams feel the same way Russ Lande does (of SportingNews) he might be too hard to pass up here. I think Liuget it is a nice player, but not a great prospect. I would love to get him in the second round and would feel much more comfortable here at the tail end of the first round as opposed to taking him at 14, or 19. Two places I’ve seen him placed a few times (Well now the Giants are always mocked Anthony Castanzo).

30. New York Jets-Brooks Reed, DE/OLB Arizona

There’s an underground swell of Brooks Reed into the first round that will become more apparent as we approach the draft. Reed is getting a lot of comparisons to Clay Matthews and the Jets desperately need a 3-4 OLB who can get to the quarterback. I’ve thought for awhile that Brooks Reed is undervalued (nearly 200 on MTD big board for instance), but I never thought he was a first round prospect, but at the combine he had a terrific 10 yard split. His 10 yard split was nearly the same speed as Jimmy Smith (Reed 1.54, Smith 1.53) which indicates terrific explosion Reed is also a 100 percent hustle player and makes a lot of sense here for the Jets.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers-Muhammed Wilkerson, DE, Temple

With all of the top tackles off the board the Steelers change up and go defensive line because Keisel and Smith are getting older and Smith has had problems staying healthy the past two seasons. I know the odds-on-favorite pick is mike Pouncey, but I don’t know why. He’s not a first round talent to me and the Steelers like to go Best player available. It’s a cool thing to predict that the brothers will end up on the same team and it’s possible, but I think the Steelers can get an OL that fits their power system at a better value than reaching for Pouncey here.

32. Green Bay Packers-Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

The Packers could use some help at DE depth and Heyward is decent value here. He’s not the same player Adrian Clayborn could be in this system, but Clayborn has the “character concern” label and could be passed on by the Packers. They could also consider interior linemen here, but one of the readers of the last posts said that Ted Thompson is against drafting interior linemen in the first round, which is possible, a lot of teams don’t want to spend a first round pick on a guard or center so I took Wisnewski and Pouncey off the board here and went with DL instead.

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