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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

LTSBlog's 2011 NFL Mock Draft 1.0 (Because It's NEVER Too Early For A Mock Draft)

Recovered from your Super Bowl hangover yet? Even though the football season is over and millions of fans have to find new ways to occupy their Sunday afternoons (no tears, people) we still have some key NFL happenings going on for the next couple of months. We have the NFL scouting combine from Feb. 23rd - Mar. 1st, colleges holding their annual "pro days" and prospects having individual workouts for teams, all leading up to the NFL Draft April 28-30th in New York.

While all of this is going on, we at LTSBlog will attempt to keep you well versed in the whole draft process (because that's what we're here for, right?) So with that said and with the draft order already set we bring you the first edition of our NFL 1st Round Mock Draft, which will be updated every Monday morning leading up to draft week, then daily as things begin to take form.

1. Carolina Panthers 2-14 (need: QB, WR, DT, CB) - Nick Fairley, DT Auburn
The Panthers are going to have a busy draft period ahead of them. They could use help everywhere. I was one of the few who thought they should pass on Andrew Luck before he decided to go back to school. I also say give Jimmy Clausen a full year to see what they have in him. They could trade down for more picks, but if they keep #1 they should go for the best player on the board. Fairely is disruptive, deceptively quick and relentless when pursuing the QB. He's not as athletic as Ndamukong Suh, but not many DTs are.

2. Denver Broncos 4-12 (needs: DE, CB, WR) - Patrick Peterson, CB LSU
Broncos and new head coach John Fox could use some depth on their defensive line as the loss of Elvis Dumervil was a huge hit to their defense. This year's draft is deep with defensive ends, so there is no need to panic and jump to draft one too high as they also need to get younger on the outside in a pass heavy league. Peterson has the size, speed and instincts to make an immediate impact.

3. Buffalo Bills 4-12 (needs: QB, LT, DT, OLB) - Blaine Gabbert, QB Missouri
Buffalo needs more help than their 4-12 record indicates, if that makes any sense. They were dead last in the NFL against the run. And although Ryan Fitzpatrick did a solid job at QB they would benefit from having a franchise quarterback in the fold. I think 3rd overall is a little too high to take any of the defensive ends on the board so Gabbert would be the pick in this scenario. He's got NFL size, a strong arm and is a very good athlete for his size.

4. Cincinnatti Bengals 4-12 (needs: WR, DE, DT, QB) - A.J. Green, WR Georgia
Since it looks like Carson Palmer will be back with the Bengals next season (which may not be a good thing) the best option may be to get him targets in the passing game, especially with Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens on their way out the door. Green appears to be a sure thing as a number one receiver and can come in and start from day 1. Another option would be Bowers on the end but I give the edge to Green here.

5. Arizona Cardinals 5-11 (needs: QB, DT, WR, CB) - Da'Quan Bowers, DE Clemson
Arizona's biggest need is quarterback but they somehow found a way to win 5 games with no one worth mentioning under center. The Cardinals have to hoping and praying Blaine Gabbert falls to them here and I think top 5 is too high to pick any of the remaining QB's on the board. So in this scenario you have to go for the best player available and target a veteran QB during the off season. Bowers is still a great pick any way you slice it.

6. Cleveland Browns 5-11 (needs: WR, DE, S, CB) - Prince Amukamara, CB Nebraska
Cleveland hit the jackpot in last year's draft with Joe Haden and Colt McCoy. They would be well served to select Amukamara to pair with Haden and form a great pair of cornerbacks for the future. Sheldon Brown is aging and Amukamara can learn the ropes while Brown still holds down the starting spot.

7. San Francisco 49ers 6-10 (needs: QB, DE, RB) - Robert Quinn, DE North Carolina
In 2010 the 49ers were a coaching change and a quarterback away from winning the division. They have a lot of solid pieces already in place to succeed. A back up running back for if (and when) Frank Gore goes down with injuries would be good but that can be found later in the draft, and they can probably get a solid QB in the off season as well. Quinn would be an upgrade at either end position and can play some outside linebacker if needed.

8. Tennessee Titans 6-10 (needs: QB, LB, DT) - Von Miller, LB Texas A&M
Jeff Fisher is gone, and Vince Young appears to be right behind him out the door so the Titans are a franchise in turmoil right now. Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett may be in play here due to the need to bring in a QB now but I don't think either are a good fit for the team in it's current state. Von Miller is a beast at outside linebacker and will be a very good pro for a very long time. Call this one a "safe" pick, if you will.

9. Dallas Cowboys 6-10 (needs: S, RB, DE) - Jimmy Smith, CB Colorado
The Cowboys have more talent that their 6-10 record would indicate. I think if Romo stayed healthy they would have been at least a 8-8 team. Dallas got shredded in the passing game and needs to infuse some youth into their secondary ASAP. Prince Amukamara would be ideal for them but Jimmy Smith's combination of size, speed and instincts are a nice consolation. He can even play some safety if needed. Dallas would love this kid.

10. Washington Redskins (needs: RB, DT, WR) - Mark Ingram, RB Alabama
Redskins most glaring need is on the defensive side of the ball, where they ranked in the bottom three in virtually every category. But at the same time the Redskins haven't had a healthy running back to handle some of the load offensively in quite some time. Ingram is a reliable pro-style back that knows how to get yards and is faster than he looks on film. He also didn't fumble much in college and bounced back well from knee surgery. Some have compared him to Emitt Smith and those comparisons are not far off.

Thoughts, opinions and comments are always welcomed. Check back tomorrow for mock draft picks 11-20.


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