The 2011 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday! Here are my predictions for the first round…
CAM NEWTON, QB, AuburnNo one is quite sure about QB Jimmy Clausen, the Panther’s second-round pick last year. So in a division with Matt Ryan, Josh Freemen, and Drew Brees, Carolina just can’t afford to pass on a speedy, quick QB with great vision. The Panthers need a defensive lineman as well.
MARCELL DAREUS, DT, AlabamaThis 6’4,” 316-pound powerhouse is the real deal. The reconstructed Broncos have recently switched back to a 4-3 defense and Dareus is new team president John Elway’s man to plug up the middle.
BLAINE GABBERT, QB, MissouriThe Bills need a long term fix for their offense. I think this young quarterback from Missouri might be what they’re looking for. There has been controversy over Gabbert’s ability to go from Missouri’s spread offense to an NFL passing offense but, let’s be honest, that’s what they say for everyone. He’s a little rough around the edges but with some coaching he will be the Bills’ long-term solution.
PATRICK PETERSON, CB, LSUPeterson is a shutdown corner, which is exactly what the Bengals need.
VON MILLER, OLB, Texas A&MArizona linebackers Clark Haggans and Joey Porter are both 34 years young and just can’t deliver the pressure that the Cardinals’ defense needs. That’s where Miller comes into play. This Texas A&M superstar should give the quarterbacks in the NFC West a run for their money.
JULIO JONES, WR, AlabamaJones is one of the most athletically gifted receivers in the draft, and his amazing athletic ability also comes with size. That’s right. This top NCAA performer is going to hook up with Colt McCoy and take the Browns to the playoffs one day.
NICK FAIRLEY, DT, AuburnLook for this lineman not only to contain the outside in Candlestick Park, but to get in the backfield and push the opponent backwards.
TYRON SMITH, OT, USCTennessee’s experiment with Vince Young is coming to an end, which means they’re likely to have an inexperienced QB behind center. How do you set up a new QB for success? You give him good blocking so he has time. That’s why I think Tyron will make a great Titan.
AKEEM AYERS, LB, UCLADallas has a 3-4 defense, which means they’re looking for one more linebacker. Ayers is their best bet.
A.J. GREEN, WR, GeorgiaGreen is an incredibly gifted receiver with natural route running abilities. He should help the ‘Skins out of their slump.
PRINCE AMUKAMARA, CB, NebraskaPrince has the size, speed and awareness to be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.
JAKE LOCKER, QB, WashingtonWith the Brett Favre era finally ending, the Vikings are trying to start fresh with a new QB.
MARK INGRAM, RB, AlabamaIngram is an incredible playmaker; he just seems to find the holes. He should give the Lions another offensive option and make Matthew Stafford look great.
ROBERT QUINN, DE, North CarolinaQuinn is a big boy who can get in the backfield and make plays.
MIKE POUNCEY, G/C, FloridaThe Dolphins had a lot of injuries on their offensive line last year, and Pouncey should be their cornerstone for rebuilding.
J.J. WATT, DT/DE, WisconsinThe Jaguars had a lot of close games last year. Watt should take “getting pressure in the back field” off of coach Del Rio’s list of thing to worry about.
ANTHONY CASTONZO, OT, Boston CollegeAnthony will help Tom Brady break even more records.
PHIL TAYLOR, NT, BaylorTaylor will be the best pass lineman in San Diego.
RANDALL COBB, WR, KentuckyCobb showed his playmaking abilities at Kentucky last year. And let’s face it, that was Kentucky. If you put this kid on a winning football team he will be dangerous.
DA’QUAN BOWERS, DE, ClemsonWith this pick, the Bucs will get the pass rushers they have long been waiting for.
GABE CARIMI, OT, WisconsinLast year, this team had a memorable 10-6 finish. They are looking to build on that by adding a solid offensive lineman like Carimi.
DEREK SHERROD, OT, Mississippi StateProtecting the passer is one of Sherrod’s best assets. And let’s be real, Peyton Manning wouldn’t be Peyton Manning if nobody blocked for him.
NATE SOLDER, OT, ColoradoNo coach in the NFL likes to throw the ball more than Andy Reid. And who is better to help him protect the passer than Solder?
RYAN KERRIGAN, DE, PurdueThe Saints love to blitz, and I think that Kerrigan is going to help them do just that.
MARVIN AUSTIN, DT, North Carolina
The Seahawks, like many others in the NFL, are trying to rebuild their D-Line. Austin is a very good start.
TORREY SMITH, WR, Maryland
Smith would give the Ravens a deep threat while Anquan Boldin works the inside. That could make them really dangerous.
KYLE RUDOLPH, TE, Notre Dame
The young tight end out of Notre Dame would hook up with Matt Ryan. Those two alone could do great things.
RYAN WILLIAMS, RB, Virginia TechWilliams isn’t the fastest back in the draft, but he sure can find the holes.
CASEY MATTHEWS, LB, Oregon
Casey is the brother of half man/half beast Clay Matthews of the Packers. He’ll follow in his brothers footsteps and should help the Bears.
JONATHAN BALDWIN, WR, PittsburghNot only is he one of the best wide outs in the draft, but he is also twice as big as every other receiver in the draft.
AARON WILLIAMS, CB, TexasThe Steelers are looking to get younger, and Williams is the best fit at cornerback.
CAMERON HEYWARD, DE, Ohio StateThe Packers will most likely pick the best defender left in the draft, and Heyward is exactly that. When you put him on the line, it’s the equivalent of building a brick wall.