2011 NFL Mock Draft: Version 2.0

It's been about two weeks since I posted my first mock draft of the year. Since then, a lot has changed. Or, at least, it seems like a lot has changed. For all we know, every single thing we hear is nothing more than misinformation purposely put out there to misdirect the opposition as we inch closer to the draft.

So allow me to try and cut through the BS out there and update my mock draft. You may again be surprised at who I have the Dolphins selecting with the 15th pick.

1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn. There seems to be a growing buzz that the Panthers like Newton more than Blaine Gabbert. While I agree that Newton's ceiling is probably higher, his floor is also much lower. But drafting will bring an excitement back to a franchise that desperately needs some.

2. Denver Broncos: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama. The Broncos need to address their defensive line as they revert back to a 4-3 base. And Dareus is just the guy to anchor that line in the middle.

3. Buffalo Bills: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M. The Bills could go in a number of directions. With Newton off the board, I don't think the Bills go with Gabbert. Instead they will take an instant impact player and one of the safest players in the draft, instantly improving their pass rush.

4. Cincinnati Bengals: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama. I'm not sold on the idea that the Bengals will take a QB in the first round. They will have a choice of a number of guys early in round two. So they go with an elite receiver who best fits their system. Likely a surprise to some, Jones will be that guy.

5. Arizona Cardinals: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri. I think this pick comes down to either one of the top two quarterbacks or Von Miller. With Miller and Newton off the board in this particular scenario, the Cards don't hesitate to take their much-needed frachise quarterback here.

6. Cleveland Browns: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia. This team has two glaring needs - defensive line help as they switch back to a 4-3 defense and a play-making wide receiver. With this draft class being stronger at DL, they take the stud WR here with the sixth pick.

7. San Francisco 49ers: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU. The steal of the draft right here. Peterson is going to be a stud and he falls to pick 7 simply because of the needs of the top 6 teams.

8. Tennessee Titans: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn. If the Titans don't talk themselves out of this pick, they will end up with an elite talent - though we all know there's some risk involved here. The coaching staff will have to make sure Fairley plays with a full tank - which will be a challenge.

9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT, USC. The Cowboys could go cornerback or outside pass rusher here. They could go also address their defensive line. But the team needs a left tackle and Smith has the most upside as a LT in this draft. He's quickly ascending up draft boards and Dallas will not hesitate to make this selection.

10. Washington Redskins: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina. With no elite WR or QB still on the board, the Redskins "settle" for a pass-rushing bookend to team with Brian Orakpo. Quinn is a top five talent and the Skins will be lucky to have him.

11. Houston Texans: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska. Houston's secondary is a disaster. Prince will help change that. This pick should be a no-brainer if the kid is still on the board.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson. The Vikings need a QB - but I don't know if they'll take one until round 2. Bowers is seeing his stock fall due to injury concerns and a poor Pro Day workout. But put the tape on and he's a tremendous pass-rusher who will step in opposite Jared Allen right away.

13. Detroit Lions: Anthony Castonzo, OT, BC. The Lions have gotten more than they could have hoped for by sliding Jeff Backus to the left side. But it's time to get serious about protecting Matthew Stafford now. Though I won't say for sure Castonzo will be the pick, I'm fairly confident I got the position right.

14. St. Louis Rams: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois. With both top receivers long gone, the Rams decide to throw head coach Steve Spagnuolo a bone and give him a new toy to play with along the defensive line. Liuget is rising on draft boards and is an excellent fit for this team.

15. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas. I must be crazy, right? Don't be so sure. If the Dolphins can't trade down - and they will try their best to do so - they have a number of options. They could take Mark Ingram. But a RB in the first round doesn't present good value. They could take an offensive lineman. But I'm not a fan of taking interior OL this high and a tackle wouldn't really fill a need. Or they could take a chance on the best pure passer in the draft. This would be an insanely risky pick - and I don't know if this Miami front office will have the balls to make this choice. But it's my mock - and this is what I'm going with...for now.

As far as potential trade partners go, a team that likes one of the top "5 technique" defensive linemen could jump up to leapfrog the Pats and Chargers, who each have a need for a 3-4 DE.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue. A high motor, high character guy that fills a position of glaring need? Almost seems too simple.

17. New England Patriots: Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal. The Patriots need pass-rushing help and help along the defensive line. Jordan is one of the top two "5 technique" defensive linemen available. Having played in a 3-4 in college, the Pats will take the kid with experience at the position.

18. San Diego Chargers: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin. The Chargers need help up front and Watt might have more upside than the player I have going one spot ahead of him. Either way, San Diego will go with one of the two 3-4 DEs here.

19. New York Giants: Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida. The Giants are getting old up front and need some fresh blood along the line. Pouncey's versatility will entice the Giants, who have needs at both guard and center.

20. Tampa Bay Bucs: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri. Tampa number one need? A defensive end who can rush the passer. They will be thrilled that Smith is still on the board to round out the top 20.

21. Kansas City Chiefs: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor. The kid's stock is on the rise as the top nose tackle available in the draft - which just so happens to be a glaring need for KC.

22. Indianapolis Colts: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin. The Colts need to finally invest in a young LT to protect their star quarterback as he ages. The Colts chose to pass on Rodger Saffold last year. They won't pass on the best LT still on the board this year.

23. Philadelphia Eagles: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado. The kid will come with character concerns. But he's so talented and is unquestionably the 3rd best corner in this draft. I think the Eagles will roll the dice on the kid, who could be a great player if he keeps his head on straight.

24. New Orleans Saints: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio St. The Saints need to address their pass rush. And getting the son of former Saints fan favorite Craig "Ironhead" Heyward isn's a bad idea, either.

25. Seattle Seahawks: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida St. Sorry but I'm not buying the "Charlie Whitehurst can be the guy" smoke screen. The Seahawks need to find a QB and Ponder is an ideal fit for that offense.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/DT, Temple. Wilkerson may be the draft's fastest riser since his Pro Day workout, which is where the buzz began. Now word is the Ravens covet this kid. He may not even be available depending on how the draft plays out and which teams possibly trade up for the big man. But in this scenario, the Ravens luck out and get their guy.

27. Atlanta Falcons: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa. The Falcons could use interior line help as well as a cornerback. But the team finished 20th in the league in sacks and John Abraham is aging quickly.

28. New England Patriots: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama. I had said in my previous mock that I could see the Pats, notorious for trading for future picks, trading away this pick to a team interested in Ingram. But now there seems to be a buzz that the Pats actually are high on the former Heisman winner. 

29. Chicago Bears: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado. Chicago's offensive line, though much improved late in the year, is still a big issue. So they take the top tackle still on the board.

30. New York Jets: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA. Ayers had a solid Pro Day, improving his 40. On tape, he plays fast and can attack the quarterback. The Jets need pass rush help.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas. The Steelers have some issues at cornerback. The Packers exploited that fact in the Super Bowl.Some think Williams is a better fit at safety. But I think he would fit in well in Pittsburgh's defense opposite Ike Taylor.

32. Green Bay Packers: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State. The Packers could either address their offensive line or find a bookend to go with Clay Matthews at outside linebacker. I think the need for a tackle wins out.

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