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NFL mock draft: A lot on the line

Defensive linemen could dominate the first round

April 23, 2011|By Sam Farmer
  • Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert can't bring down Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who returned an interception for a touchdown in the BCS title game two seasons ago.
Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert can't bring down Alabama defensive… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

Are NFL teams ready to be on the defensive? To piece together this mock draft, I called — in order — 32 writers who cover the teams on a daily basis and asked them to predict the individual first-round picks. Twenty selected defensive players, including 14 linemen. Among the potential first-round picks not selected were quarterbacks Ryan Mallett of Arkansas and Colin Kaepernick of Nevada; Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure; Baylor guard Danny Watkins; and Arizona defensive end Brooks Reed. What's more, this version of the draft has players from both USC and UCLA chosen among the first 18. That hasn't happened since 1999, when USC linebacker Chris Claiborne went ninth to Detroit and UCLA quarterback Cade McNown was taken 12th by Chicago.

1. PANTHERS — QB Cam Newton, Auburn: (pick by Darin Gantt, Charlotte Observer) "They'll listen to trade offers, but they've got to fix their quarterback problem."

2. BRONCOS — OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M: (Mike Klis, Denver Post) "Miller is the best pass rusher, and the Broncos can pick up a defensive tackle in the second."

3. BILLS — DT Marcell Dareus, Alabama: (Mark Gaughan, Buffalo News) "The Bills were 32nd against the run last year and have been in the bottom 11 the past six seasons."

4. BENGALS — WR A.J. Green, Georgia: (Joe Reedy, Cincinnati Enquirer) "The Bengals need a No. 1 receiver, and the odds of Chad Ochocinco being back aren't good."

5. CARDINALS — CB Patrick Peterson, Louisiana State: (Kent Somers, Arizona Republic) "I think they'll take him over a quarterback, and he's a guy who can contribute right away."

6. BROWNS — WR Julio Jones, Alabama: (Tony Grossi, Cleveland Plain Dealer) "The Browns want the surest thing they can find here, and they need a target for Colt McCoy."

7. 49ERS — QB Blaine Gabbert, Missouri: (Matt Barrows, Sacramento Bee) "With only David Carr under contract, Jim Harbaugh is looking for someone he can develop into a 10-year starter."

8. TITANS — DT Nick Fairley, Auburn: (Paul Kuharsky, ESPN.com) "This would reunite Fairley with Tracy Rocker, his college defensive line coach who's now with the Titans."

9. COWBOYS — T Tyron Smith, USC: (Todd Archer, ESPNDallas.com) "The Cowboys are set at left tackle, but Smith could come in and start immediately on the right side."

10. REDSKINS — DE J.J. Watt, Wisconsin: (Rick Maese, Washington Post) "The Redskins need another pass rusher to beef up their newly installed 3-4 defense. Watt is a good fit."

11. TEXANS — DE Aldon Smith, Missouri: (John McClain, Houston Chronicle) "The only thing missing from Wade Phillips' front seven is an outside linebacker who can rush the passer."

12. VIKINGS — QB Jake Locker, Washington: (Judd Zulgad, Minneapolis Star Tribune) "The Vikings like Locker's demeanor, and they need to address their quarterback vacancy."

13. LIONS — CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska: (Tom Kowalski, Booth Newspapers) "The Lions are desperate for cornerback help. If Aldon Smith is there, though, they'll take a hard look."

14. RAMS — DE Cameron Jordan, Cal: (Howard Balzer, The Sports Xchange/101Sports.com) "Jordan is a guy who can rush the passer and also move inside in Steve Spagnuolo's defense."

15. DOLPHINS — DE Robert Quinn, North Carolina: (Omar Kelly, South Florida Sun-Sentinel) "The Dolphins would like a pass rusher to pair with Cameron Wake. They'll probably try to trade down."

16. JAGUARS — DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue: (Vito Stellino, Florida Times-Union) "Kerrigan is a high-character guy with a relentless motor who's been compared to Aaron Kampman."

17. PATRIOTS — T Anthony Castonzo, Boston College: (Shalise Manza Young, Boston Globe) "If the top pass rushers are already gone, the Patriots will look to add talent to their offensive line."

18. CHARGERS — OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA: (Kevin Acee, San Diego Union-Tribune) "They like some other pass rushers better, but they're already gone in this version of the draft."

19. GIANTS — C Mike Pouncey, Florida: (Mike Garafolo, Newark Star-Ledger) "With Shaun O'Hara and Rich Seubert coming off surgeries, Giants need immediate help at center."

20. BUCCANEERS — DE Da'Quan Bowers, Clemson: (Rick Stroud, St. Petersburg Times) "The Bucs were tied for 30th in sacks last year and want to continue to build around Gerald McCoy."

21. CHIEFS — T Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin: (Kent Babb, Kansas City Star) "Right tackle has been a glaring weakness for the Chiefs for at least three years. Carimi could also play left if needed."

22. COLTS — T Nate Solder, Colorado: (Mike Chappell, Indianapolis Star) "Peyton Manning needs better protection, and the offensive line has been in a steady decline for a few years."

23. EAGLES — DE Adrian Clayborn, Iowa: (Les Bowen, Philadelphia Daily News) "Brandon Graham's knee injury puts his 2011 season in question. Clayborn could complement Trent Cole."

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