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2011 mock draft 5.0

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Recent posts by Nolan Nawrocki

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By Nolan Nawrocki

With less than two weeks until the draft and no end in sight for the labor dispute, the draft will take place before teams are able to fill needs through free agency, leaving more teams panicked to address primary areas of need. In Mock Draft 5.0, PFW projects that teams will take a very need-oriented approach to the draft.

1. Carolina Panthers
Marcell Dareus | DL | Alabama [Jr.]
The Panthers have been searching for inside help for years and have struggled to find it. New defensive-minded head coach Ron Rivera lands a key piece of his new defense with the most talented, versatile defensive lineman in this year's draft.

2. Denver Broncos
Von Miller | DE | Texas A&M
Miller is hands down the best pass rusher in this year's draft. Elvis Dumervil is coming off a torn pectoral that kept him out for the entire season and the Broncos could significantly upgrade the heat coming off the edge if he returns to full health.

3. Buffalo Bills
Cam Newton | QB | Auburn [Jr.]
GM Buddy Nix is looking for a spark on offense, and Newton has proven the last two years that he can help win championships as soon as he arrives. He'll have his work cut out for him in Buffalo, but he will change the franchise more than any other player in this year's draft. The oldest front-office regime in the league takes a short-term approach.

4. Cincinnati Bengals
A.J. Green | WR | Georgia [Jr.]
With QB Carson Palmer still on the roster, the Bengals' greatest need is at receiver, and Green is the cream of the crop in this year's draft. He gives Palmer a reason to quit whining, and immediately upgrades the offense for another quarterback to be drafted later, if Palmer remains stubborn.

5. Arizona Cardinals
Blaine Gabbert | QB | Missouri [Jr.]
Ken Whisenhunt might have the most pressing need for a quarterback of any team and with few legitimate options available in free agency, he needs to act quickly to contend once again in a quarterback-deficient division.

6. Cleveland Browns
Robert Quinn | DE | North Carolina [Jr.]
Mike Holmgren knows how to fix the offense now that he has more control of the coaching staff and can dictate how to move the chains. What he sorely lacks is a pass rusher capable of producing off the edge.

7. San Francisco 49ers
Patrick Peterson | CB | LSU [Jr.]
Quarterbacks coached by Jim Harbaugh blossom under his tutelage. Most pressing for Niners GM Trent Baalke is shoring up the secondary.

8. Tennessee Titans
Nick Fairley | DT | Auburn [Jr.]
The Titans have two pressing concerns on each side of the ball and must consider addressing the quarterback position, but the lack of a pass rush led to the defense finishing 29th in the league against the pass. Fairley could change the complexion of the defense more than a quarterback could for the offense.

9. Dallas Cowboys
Tyron Smith | OT | USC [Jr.]
To keep Tony Romo healthy, the Cowboys need to improve the edges of their offensive line. OT Marc Colombo is on his last legs, and OT Doug Free struggled last season. Adding more athletic ability to a heavy-legged group helps Jason Garrett the most in his first full year on the job.

10. Washington Redskins
Julio Jones | WR | Alabama [Jr.]
Mike Shanahan's offense is best with a a big, strong, physical West Coast receiver who can create after the catch, and there are none better suited for his system this year than Jones.

11. Houston Texans
Prince Amukamara | CB | Nebraska
The Texans ranked dead last in the league defending the pass and they have needs at cornerback and safety. If Amukamara is available, new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips becomes ecstatic.

12. Minnesota Vikings
QB Jake Locker | QB | Washington
The days of desperately awaiting for the arrival of Brett Favre are gone. With a new head coach comes the need for a future franchise quarterback. Locker could bring a Fran Tarkenton energy to the Vikings' offense and has the intangibles to make vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman feel comfortable swinging the bat on a quarterback early.

13. Detroit Lions
Jimmy Smith | CB | Colorado
Lions' opponents salivated preparing gameplans featuring the deep passing attack, preying on a group of clutch-and-hold cornerbacks that were too often victimized. Jimmy Smith brings the size and press-coverage skills to help complete Jim Schwartz's defense. The Lions' pressing need at linebacker has to wait until coming rounds where talent matches the pick.

14. St. Louis Rams
Cameron Jordan | DL | California
No one understands the importance of stockpiling big, athletic, versatile pass rushers more than Steve Spagnuolo. With no top-flight receiving option available, new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will wait to land a pass catcher in the coming rounds. The Rams benefit most by adding a unique pass rusher.

15. Miami Dolphins
Ryan Mallett | QB | Arkansas
Bill Parcells admitted he may have made a mistake undervaluing Matt Ryan in 2008, given the success the Falcons have had the last two years and how much more the QB position affects the game than a premier blind-side protector. Dan Marino became a legend in Miami despite having lead feet and whispers of character concerns, similar to Mallett, and he could provide the spark GM Jeff Ireland is seeking offensively.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars
J.J. Watt | DE | Wisconsin [Jr.]
GM Gene Smith has made a concerted effort to focus on chemistry in the locker room and has sought "safe" selections. Watt is one of the safest selections in this draft and will readily assume a leadership role wherever he lands, fitting very well into the Jaguars' plans.

17. New England Patriots (from Oakland)
Anthony Castonzo | OLT | Boston College
Matt Light is unsigned and although Sebastian Vollmer has shown he can handle the left side, the Patriots still sorely need to upgrade their edge protection if they want to keep Tom Brady standing.

18. San Diego Chargers
Aldon Smith | OLB | Missouri [Soph.-3]
Smith has extremely long arms and possesses the size that GM A.J. Smith covets in his outside linebackers. He is still raw and learning the game, but has as much upside as any pass rusher in this year's draft.

19. New York Giants
Mike Pouncey | OG-C | Florida
Wherever Tom Coughlin has been, the offensive line has been strong, and age has begun to catch up with the interior of the Giants' offensive line. The Giants continue building inside-out, as they always have.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Ryan Kerrigan | DE | Purdue
The Buccaneers need to improve against the run and do not have a starting-caliber bookend on the roster. With Aqib Talib bringing unwanted negative attention to the team, GM Mark Dominik focuses on adding character to the locker room.

21. Kansas City Chiefs
Gabe Carimi | OT | Wisconsin
QB Matt Cassel could use another target as much as he could improved protection, but a 30th-ranked passing game will not get better without an infusion of youth on the offensive line. Carimi is smart, confident and versatile enough to help at a number of positions, and makes Cassel's job a little easier.

22. Indianapolis Colts
Corey Liuget | DT | Illinois [Jr.]
Bill Polian is a value-driven decision maker who has focused on building his offense heavily through the draft, and it would not be a surprise if he caught the league off-guard with the selection of a proven running back such as Mark Ingram, if he is still available. Greater needs remain on both lines, however, and Liuget fills the all-important under tackle role.

23. Philadelphia Eagles
Nate Solder | OT | Colorado
The Eagles' offensive line struggled with injuries last season and would benefit from adding some younger pieces, especially with OLT Jason Peters coming off injury and recently running into trouble off the field and Winston Justice finding himself on the bench late in the season. O-line coach Howard Mudd could work magic with a raw, hard-working talent such as Solder. 

24. New Orleans Saints
Muhammad Wilkerson | DE | Temple [Jr.]
The Saints have made it a priority to field a strong defensive line and with age beginning to show on the edges, Wilkerson would bring much-needed youth while also providing value kicking inside in nickel situations.

25. Seattle Seahawks
Andy Dalton | QB | TCU
Matt Hasselbeck remains unsigned and has struggled to play a full season. Dalton is a quick-triggered, West Coast passer ideally suited for the offense of new coordinator Darrell Bevell. If there is a run on quarterbacks early, Dalton has a chance to sneak into the first round and could become the future in Seattle.

26. Baltimore Ravens
Derek Sherrod | OT | Mississippi State
Joe Flacco is at his best when he has time in the pocket, and the Ravens struggled to provide enough protection last season because of struggles on the edge, primarily from the blind side, where Michael Oher regressed in his sophomore season. Sherrod has the flexibility to play either side and solidifies one of the best offensive lines in football.

27. Atlanta Falcons
Adrian Clayborn | DE | Iowa
The best way to protect the secondary is to create more of a pass rush, and with John Abraham aging, Falcons head coach Mike Smith needs more help on the front line. Clayborn's limited arm use figures to push him down draft boards, and may even push him out of the first round altogether.

28. New England Patriots
Mark Ingram | RB | Alabama [Jr.]
Ingram has been cleared by many teams medically and it may be the lack of need at the position and the diminished value of runners in a pass-first league that causes him to slip just as much as medical concerns. More teams have begun to use a specialized, combo backfield, including the Patriots, but Ingram could prove to be too valuable at this spot for the Patriots to deal the pick.

29. Chicago Bears
Marvin Austin | DT | North Carolina
Rod Marinelli made his name in coaching by managing Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice, two of the game's wildest personalities. If Cullen Jenkins is targeted in free agency as expected, the onus will fall on the offensive line, but finding a replacement for Tommie Harris remains a priority.

30. New York Jets
Akeem Ayers | OLB | UCLA [Jr.]
The rush linebacker position remains a difficult position to fill, and with so few in this year's draft, Ayers can be drafted more highly than he grades on tape. He would fill a pressing need of the Jets after Vernon Gholston did not pan out.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers
Aaron Williams | CB | Texas [Jr.]
The Steelers' secondary could be hit hard by free agency, forcing a need-driven drafting team to add a cornerback. No one creates pressure better than Dick LeBeau does with his linebackers, and a cornerback with excellent short-area cover skills such as Williams would fit extremely well in Pittsburgh.

32. Green Bay Packers
Justin Houston | OLB | Georgia [Jr.]
Pairing Clay Matthews with a big, strong edge rusher capable of leveraging the edge could take Dom Capers' defense to a new level, and Houston very well fits the mold of a Capers linebacker.

For scouting reports on all the top prospects featured in PFW's 2011 Draft Preview book, visit The PFW Store.

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