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2011 Pre-Free Agency NFL Power Rankings and 2012 Mock Draft


32 (1)–Washington Redskins:  Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Why the rank? Washington’s QB situation is pitiful and not looking up. That is the most important position arguably in all of professional sports. Combine that with poor management, and you could have one of the worst seasons in franchise history. This team doesn’t have a legitimate running game, and virtually no wide receiver that scares any defensive coordinator. It could be a long road ahead, and MIke Shanahan might be out of a job before this pick is made.

Why the pick? Luck is a big time QB prospect and a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. He is almost inarguably the best quarterback in all of college football since Peyton Manning.

31 (2)–Carolina Panthers:  Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

Why the rank? Carolina’s roster just stinks, from top to bottom, and their lack of talent is evident at key positions, including a potential rookie starting at QB. Most of their best players are free agents, or are on the trading block.

Why the pick? Coples is the best defensive player in college football at this particular moment in time, and he is an athletic freak who can be a beast pass rusher in the NFL.

30 (3)–Cincinnati Bengals:  Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma

Why the rank? The Bengals are kind of a mess, and could be starting Andy Dalton at QB. I have no problems with Dalton, but a rookie QB with no stable veteran receivers to throw to could get ugly, and the Bengals also have huge problems in the defensive secondary, especially if Jonathan Joseph leaves.

Why the pick? Unless Dalton shows signs of stardom, Jones is almost as good a prospect as Luck and should be in contention for the top pick. He’s too talented to pass up.

29 (4)–Arizona Cardinals: Matt Barkley, QB, USC

Why the rank? Arizona’s QB situation stinks, and they are simply not good enough offensively to ocmpete with even the other poor teams in that division. If they land a guy like Kolb or Orton, they will probably be ranked higher. Right now, though, Derek Anderson and John Skelton don’t scare anyone.

Why the pick? Barkley is such an intriguing kid and a great QB prospect. He could be a star in the NFL for a long, long time.

28 (5)–Tennessee Titans:  Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

Why the rank? Rookie QB (sense a pattern?), coaching change, and lots of shuffle all around the Titans’ roster, including the unknown situation of Kenny Britt, who is indeed one of the most foolish players in the NFL.

Why the pick? Jeffery reminds me a lot of Andre or Calvin Johnson, just not as much speed. He will be a Pro Bowl receiver for a long, long time.

27 (6)–Cleveland Browns:  Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Why the rank? Cleveland could be higher, to be honest, but this is a competitive league and there are quite a few good teams out there. I think they play in a tough division and have a lot of youth defensively, but they will be a tough out for anyone.

Why the pick? Peyton Hillis can’t do it all on his own, and the style of play that he has is simply too risky to keep only one talented back on the roster. In such a tough division, you need to have multiple tough runners. Not only that, but Richardson is a blue-chip, can’t miss prospect at the position.

26 (7)–Buffalo Bills:  Matt Kalil, OT, USC

Why the rank? Buffalo is still full of question marks offensively, though they are getting better on the other side of the ball. They are an interesting squad, but with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm, I think they put up numbers but not a lot of W’s in the standings.

Why the pick? No QB’s are on the board, so they might as well get the top offensive tackle in the entire draft to protect whatever one they end up getting (Terrelle Pryor, maybe?)

25 (8)–Miami Dolphins:  Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

Why the rank? Miami just has so many question marks for me. Who will lead the running game? Who will be the quarterback? They have talent, but they need to be able to piece the puzzle together.

Why the pick? Miami’s interception numbers were atrocious last year, and their big name corners combined for a whopping two on the season. Gilmore is a ball-hawk who can hit like a ton of bricks, and might be one of the best overall players in the whole draft.

24 (9)–San Francisco 49ers:  Dre’ Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Why the rank? New coach, possible new quarterback, injury prone running back, and a questionable defensive backfield.

Why the pick? Kirkpatrick is a physical marvel with tons of skills at the cornerback position. He will be a high pick no matter what draft he is in, and the 49ers would probably love to add someone like him to their roster.

23 (10)–Seattle Seahawks:  Robert Lester, S, Alabama

Why the rank? I don’t like Seattle’s QB situation and I think they vastly overachieved last year despite only winning seven games.

Why the pick? Robert Lester is so talented and is the best safety in the draft easily. He has a ton of physical skill and picked off 8 passes as a sophomore.

22 (11)–Oakland Raiders: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

Why the rank? The Raiders don’t have a stable QB, and they also could be losing the following players to free agency: Michael Bush, Zach Miller, Robert Gallery, Nnamdi Asomugha, Mike Huff. That’s a murderers row for a team that won 8 games last year thanks large in part to all five of the aforementioned athletes.

Why the pick? Justin Blackmon is a touchdown machine and a good athlete. Is he fast enough to be drafted by Al Davis, who has failed with picks like Darrius Heyward-Bey? We will see.

21 (12)–Minnesota Vikings:  Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

Why the rank? Vikes could be breaking in a rookie quarterback, and even if they trade for Donovan McNabb I don’t see much improvement off of last season in arguably the best division in football with an aging roster. Adrian Peterson can only win you so many games.

Why the pick? Bye bye to Bryant McKinnie, and hello to the next decade long starter at left tackle for the Vikings.

20 (13)–Houston Texans: Cliff Harris, CB/RS, Oregon

Why the rank? Houston’s defense is shifting to the 3-4, and they have a ton of talent on the front seven. However, teams can throw all over them. Will the scheme change be enough? This team is always on the cusp, and this could be “the year”.

Why the pick?This might be high for Harris who is facing indefinite suspension, but he is a playmaker who can score any time he touches the ball.

19 (14)–Denver Broncos:  Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska

Why the rank? Why did the Broncos jump so high? Well, simply because a rash of injuries ruined their 2010 season, and I think they will have a much more formidable defense. The Broncos need to significantly upgrade their running back and defensive tackle positions or they might free-fall. I think Tim Tebow will be a star in this league for many years.

Why the pick? The Broncos need some home-grown talent on the defensive line, and Jared Crick is probably the top overall lineman in the entire draft. He is a good pass rusher and equally capable against the run.

18 (15)–Jacksonville Jaguars: Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma

Why the rank? Jacksonville is always competitive and has made strides. They are in a make or break year at the head coaching position, and they have a porous defensive backfield. I think they will be better this year, though.

Why the pick? Travis Lewis is the best 4-3 WILL linebacker prospect you will see in this draft and possibly for many drafts to come. He’s a natural and a fantastic tackler who will be a big time player from the get-go.

17 (16)–Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

Why the rank? The Bucs overachieved last year and won’t take a step back this year in terms of production, but the wins will be harder to come by.

Why the pick? Dennard has shut-down potential just like his old running mate Prince Amukamara, and he might even be better.

16 (17)–St. Louis Rams: Ray Ray Armstrong, S, Miami

Why the rank? I love the hire of Josh McDaniels at offensive coordinator for this team, and I think they are really on to something in St. Louis. They could be this year’s version of Kansas City.

Why the pick? St. Louis really failed to upgrade the safety position in the draft this year, and could have one of the worst duos in the league as a result. Armstrong is a fantastic talent who would fit right in to Steve Spagnuolo’s defense.

15 (18)–Detroit Lions: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State

Why the rank? Detroit lost six games last year by five points or less, and if Matthew Stafford can give them a full season, they will be a 10 win team, and possibly better.

Why the pick? Despite their best efforts, the linebacker position is still weak in Detroit. They need a bruiser like Burfict, who is one of the top tacklers in the nation.

14 (19)–Kansas City Chiefs: Brandon Jenkins, DE/OLB, Florida State

Why the rank? The Chiefs overachieved and had the easiest schedule in the NFL last year. Matt Cassel will hold this team back from being great, but they will still be good.

Why the pick? Jenkins is an elite pass rushing prospect and could go much higher than this. He s primed to be a beast in the NFL, and would fit in perfect as a 3-4 rush linebacker.

13 (20)–San Diego Chargers: Courtney Upshaw, LB, Alabama

Why the rank? I think Philip Rivers wills this team to a division title, but just by the hair on his chin. They are losing a lot, and could take a HUGE step back.

Why the pick? Upshaw is a beast who can play inside or out, and I think he will have a long and successful NFL career.

12 (21)–Philadelphia Eagles: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

Why the rank? Philly is a playoff team again, but barely with the great competition in the division. Michael Vick played out of his mind last year, and I’m not so sure that will happen over again. They will make good use of Kevin Kolb and net good value for him, but will it be worth it?

Why the pick? Philly has a good young safety in Nate Allen, and they added Jaiquawn Jarrett to the mix in the second round this year. The only thing missing is a top tier playmaker at the cornerback position opposite Asante Samuel. Claiborne is a big time playmaker and has a ton of upside.

11 (22)–New York Giants: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

Why the rank? I think the G-men are the second best team in the division and they will be near the top of the NFL ranks once again in 2011.

Why the pick? They were said to be interested in the likes of Gabe Carimi and Nate Solder this year, so why would they not have interest in an All-American again in 2012?

10 (23)–Chicago Bears: Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas

Why the rank? Chicago needs consistency from Jay Cutler. I also need a million dollars.

Why the pick? I like what the Bears did to upgrade their beef this past year, but they need a guy who can help carry the load at running back. Knile Davis is a big time, big play back with size and speed and he could really help put the Bears over the top.

9 (24)–Dallas Cowboys: Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama

Why the rank? Dallas will get back to their winning ways after a shocking 2010 season where they were the ninth worst team in the NFL.

Why the pick? Hightower is a huge, athletic linebacker prospect with versatility. He can play inside or outside and has experience in a 3-4 defense right out of college.

8 (25)–Indianapolis Colts: T.J. McDonald, S, USC

Why the rank? Any team with Peyton Manning at QB is top ten in my book. The Colts are always good. Like ice water or a soft bed.

Why the pick? They lack talent in the defensive backfield, and McDonald is primed to break out as one of the best safeties in college football this year.

7 (26)–Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te’O, LB, Notre Dame

Why the rank? Baltimore’s defense always has them near the top, and now Joe Flacco has more than enough speed, size, and veteran leadership at the receiver position to help him out. No excuses for the Ravens this year.

Why the pick? The Ravens have aging linebackers and Te’O is one of the best tacklers you will see all year. Watch NBC on Saturday’s if for no other reason than to see number five for the golden domers.

6 (27)–New York Jets: Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, West Virginia

Why the rank? Rex Ryan guaranteed the Jets a Super Bowl. That’s too lofty for me, but I think his attitude is infectious in that place, and the Jets do a good job in the draft and free agency every year.

Why the pick? Bruce Irvin is an underrated player who had only 20 tackles last year–14 of which were sacks. Now he’s starting full-time, and will be a force to be reckoned with.

5 (28, Cleveland)–Atlanta Falcons:  Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia

Why the rank? Atlanta made a move in this year’s draft that got even me–an unbiased third party–pumped. Adding Julio Jones to this offense makes me think the Falcons are not only in it to win it, they are right up there with Green Bay as the best team in the NFL.

Why the pick? Cleveland acquired this pick on draft night 2011, and they need someone more consistent across from Joe Haden who had six INT’s as a rookie. Minnifield has shut-down potential, and is one of the best senior CB’s in the nation.

4 (29)–Pittsburgh Steelers:  LaMichael James, RB, Oregon

Why the rank? Pittsburgh is arguably the best team in the NFL. They are a fantastic organization from top to bottom, and when Ben Roethlisberger is on, they are almost unbeatable.

Why the pick? Rashard Mendenhall is a great back, but his YPC average is not great, and he can’t carry the ball 300+ times every season. James is an excellent complement and a speedy back who can give the Steelers another dimension offensively.

3 (30, New England)–New Orleans Saints: Donte Paige-Moss, DE/OLB, North Carolina

Why the rank? New Orleans has such a talented team overall that it’s hard to rank them anywhere else. You could make a case that they are not as good as Atlanta, and I would possibly agree with you, but they made moves on draft night that solidified them as a team to beat in the NFL.

Why the pick? New England takes a chance on a pass rusher from UNC who is raw but could bust out of his shell this season and be a pass rushing phenom.

2 (31)–New England Patriots: Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M

Why the rank? Tom Brady is the best player in the NFL, and he has the Pats playing phenomenal ball. I think they reach the Super Bowl again this year provided they can stay healthy.

Why the pick? Fuller is a solid WR prospect who has size and excellent overall ability. MOre toys to add for Brady as the Patriots try to put together one last short dynasty.

1 (32)–Green Bay Packers:  Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Why the rank? Super Bowl champs have even more depth going into this year than they had when they were at their BEST last year, and that’s saying something. Well coached with a top three QB in this league, and one of the best defenses in the game. They have the makings of a dynasty.

Why the pick? It’s a luxury to even have a first rounder for this team, but with Donald Driver gaining steam in the years column, Jordy Nelson more of a 3 or 4, and the same for 2011 second round pick Randall Cobb, I think the Packers can afford to look at WR’s in next year’s draft, even take a chance on a guy like Floyd who has some character flaws.

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