Thursday, April 14, 2011

2011 NFL Draft Predictions

5 QBs will be picked in R1
Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert are givens. I expect that three from Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, Ryan Mallett, Colin Kaepernick, and Andy Dalton go on day one as well.

Mikel Leshoure will be drafted before Mark Ingram
Leshoure has been my #1 rated back since late December, and it appears as if he’s gaining ground on a slipping Ingram. This prediction is far from a long shot.

Corey Liuget will be drafted before Nick Fairley
This prediction rests heavily on Fairley falling due to his reportedly sloppy handling of pre-draft activities and his short resume. As I mentioned in the Bowers/Fairley piece, I don’t believe there are a lot of fits for him early on in this draft, and those teams might shy away from him due to maturity, effort, and focus concerns. The Rams (#14) reportedly love Liuget, and if Fairley happens to fall that far, I’m counting on him falling further and the Rams going with Liuget.

Jake Locker will be drafted before Prince Amukamara
Quarterbacks have the most volatile stock when it comes to the draft, and I’m counting on Washington (#10), Minnesota (#12), or a mystery trade up team taking Locker in the top 15 picks. I believe Amukamara will slide just a little bit due to some concerns about his speed and a focus on passers and pass rushers in the top half of the draft.

Torrey Smith won’t be one of the first four receivers drafted
It’s a given that AJ Green and Julio Jones will hear their names called before Smith, but I think concerns over his receiving ability (body catcher) and route limitation will have him slide out of R1 unless the Packers rescue him. I don’t believe the top half of R2 plays out in his favor, and in the end, I’ve got both Jon Baldwin and Randall Cobb going before he does.

If the Bills don’t take a QB at #3, watch for a team like Oakland, Washington, Tennessee, or Jacksonville to try and trade up to #33 (first pick of R2) ahead of them to for Andy Dalton or Colin Kaepernick
That’s assuming Dalton and Kaepernick make it to R2.

More offensive lineman will be picked in R1 than receivers, running backs, and cornerbacks combined
Anthony Castonzo, Tyron Smith, Mike Pouncey, Derek Sherrod, Nate Solder, and Gabe Carimi are the guys most frequently mentioned as R1 picks, but don’t be surprised if Danny Watkins and/or Benjamin Ijalana hear their names called on day one as well.

Teams most likely to trade down: Dallas (9), Detroit (13), Miami (15), New England (17, 28, 33), and Chicago (29)
Dallas wants Patrick Peterson, and if they’re not as sold on Tyron Smith as everyone’s saying they are, maybe they look to deal down and add picks. Detroit can still move down and get an offensive lineman or corner. Miami has no R2 pick and no urgent needs that look to have great value at #15. New England is always up for acquiring more draft picks, and if Chicago doesn’t see an offensive or defensive lineman that they have to have, maybe they strike a deal with a QB needy team to move down.

Teams most likely to trade up: Jacksonville (16), San Diego (18), Tampa Bay (20), New Orleans (24), and Baltimore (26)
Jacksonville could get itchy for a QB or one of the top pass rushers. San Diego might have their eye on a specific player (JJ Watt?) or two for their front seven and could move up ahead of the Jaguars and Patriots to get him. I have more confidence in predicting that the Bucs move up in the draft for a pass rusher rather than staying in their current spot at #20. Mark Dominik has moved up before to get his guy (Josh Freeman, Arrelious Benn), and with the Bucs having a very urgent pass rushing need, I definitely see him moving up to get a preference rather than “settling” for whoever’s left. Robert Quinn and Ryan Kerrigan are the two players I could most see the Bucs moving up to acquire. New Orleans and Baltimore are both looking to make defensive improvements and could be eyeing the same talent (Muhammad Wilkerson, Adrian Clayborn, Aldon Smith). I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least one of them move up for their guy.


  1. Dang! Were comments on this entry not up to editorial muster?! It said they were posted.


  2. Ha ha. I was just replying to your post. Wasn't sure what happened to your comments, but I did get them via email (love that feature). I certainly did not delete them.

    Here you go:

    “This entry is probably not your final set of predictions, but I see no reason to let that stop me from commenting upon your informed opinions with my uninformed opinions.”

    I’m sure I’ll have more, but I’ve already broken one of them in my mock that I’ll post as soon as I can find time.

    “No way five QBs go in R1. Kaepernick is way too much of a project. Dalton has obvious physical limitations; the only question I have about him is will he go slightly before or slightly after where colt mccoy went in 2010. ponder has questions about his ability to stay healthy and has a good but unspectacular next-level arm. i like ponder a lot,but it's about business too, and he doesnt have the kind of eye-popping athleticism or cannon that gets fans to pay for tickets.”

    Newton, Gabbert, Locker, and Mallett are pretty sure R1 picks in my opinion. Newton and Gabbert will go in the top 10, and I think Locker will go in the top 16. Mallett looks like a late R1 pick; either to Seattle or someone dealing up to get him. Then I think you’re going to see a team jump into the end of day one to beat that early day 2 rush for a QB. It wouldn’t shock me at all to see Ponder, Kaepernick, or Dalton go at the bottom or R1. I currently have all three of them slotted to go early R2, but I think the odds are good that at least one team (Bills, Bengals, Titans, Redskins) deals into back of R1 to get one of them.

    “I am with you on Ingram v. Leshoure. I think Ingram is going to be very ordinary in the NFL, sort of a poor mans michael pittman.
    I would take Leshoure over him in an instant: the few times I saw Ingram catch the ball, it was clear to me nothing interesting was going to happen. Leshoure had it all over him
    in elusiveness and game-changibility (applying for the patent on that one soon).”

    To me Leshoure seems to get more done when he has the football in his hands. Their 10 yard splits might prove me wrong here (can’t find them), but watching the two, Leshoure gets up to speed a lot quicker than Ingram. Leshoure runs harder / hits the hole harder than Ingram, and I think he’s going to be less impacted/negated by the strength/power of professional defensive players than Ingram. It’s an easy comparison, but I think Leshoure’s going to project production-wise to fellow Illini Rashard Mendenhall. He also compares very favorably with Steven Jackson. If the Bucs were better situated on defense, I’d be lobbying hard for the Bucs to move down from #20 and take him towards the end of R1.

    “New England is going to pick at 17. At some point, you have to roll the dice and hope to get a special player, and those special players, excepting those sure fire guys like suh and bradford, are more often found between 10-25 than 25-31. personally, i think continually trading down for picks is absurd. what have all those draft picks amounted to at playoff time
    since the patriots have not had the advantage of illegally taping opponet practices? i bet last year against the jets having richard seymour would have been worth the 17th and pick in the draft.”

    I can’t see the Patriots staying at 17, 28, and 33, but I think 17 is the least likely to be dealt. 28 would be a great spot for someone to come get a QB, and 33 is the first pick of the second day. They love acquiring picks.


  3. (continued)

    “This: "More offensive lineman will be picked in R1 than receivers, running backs, and cornerbacks combined", sounded crazy until
    you wrote down the names. wow...a really good year of o-linmen or a mediocre year for the other positions? I say more that latter than
    the former. “

    Having Andrew Luck and Justin Blackmon return to school didn’t help the draft. It’s a mediocre year across the board when you get to a certain point. I don’t think there’s a stud in the OL bunch, but Castonzo and Carimi look like solid starters. I’m not big on Tyron Smith, but NFL guys apparently love him. I don’t like that he was the second best tackle on his team, looks small, and hasn’t played on the left side. I’m not convinced Solder will ever be a solid LT, but folks rave about his athleticism and him being raw. He just looks too awkward to me. As I’ve mentioned before, I think he’s going to need a lot of work and isn’t worth the early pick risk in my opinion. Pouncey will be good, but I think he’s getting overrated a little bit. Sherrod is a safe, non-sexy pick who I think makes a lot of sense for the Colts. Then you’ve got Danny Watkins and Benjamin Ijalana, two guys I think have a chance of being late R1 picks. It’s not an overwhelmingly talented group, and I don’t think we’re going to look back on this class in 10 years with some sense of nostalgia. Again, it’s not sexy, but you can spend a mid-late R1 pick and get a lineman who may not have a Joe Thomas ceiling but do have a relatively high floor (low bust rate).

    “If Quinn is there, the Chargers are going to sell the farm to get him before the Pats do.”

    I think Quinn goes long before the Patriots are on the clock.

  4. By the way, I'm working on finishing up several pieces:
    - new mock
    - rankings
    - my top 32 prospects
    - Buccaneer big board