As noted yesterday in our Atlanta Falcons NFL Draft story, it's not too early to talk 2011 draft. Mocking The Draft, our NFL Draft community, has released its first mock draft for next year. The southeast dominates, with 16 of 32 picks coming from the SEC or ACC. Here's a rundown:
No. 2, Buffalo Bills: Alabama Crimson Tide DT Marcel Dareus. Chan Gailey's biggest mistake as Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets coach, even worse than sticking with Reggie Ball, was failing to recruit enough linemen. Bills GM Buddy Nix picked six linemen with his ten picks last year, and it would be nice to see that continue.
No. 3, Detroit Lions: LSU Tigers CB Patrick Peterson. Adding LSU's best defender, top special teamer, and sometimes even highest scorer would bring us right back to that thing we say about the Lions every year: with all that talent, how can they not win?
No. 5, Cincinnati Bengals: Clemson Tigers DE Da'Quan Bowers. An orange tiger stays so, joining former Dawg Geno Atkins and former Jacket Michael Johnson in the Bengals' neverending quest to fix a pass rush that should work but doesn't.
No. 6, San Francisco 49ers: Auburn Tigers DT Nick Fairley. Oh please oh please oh please put Mike Singletary in charge of Fairley. Coach would either have Fairley showing up 15 minutes early and putting the toilet seat down out of respect for mothers everywhere, a la his work with Vernon Davis, or he'd drive him even deeper into quarterback-snapping insanity. Kind of both, you'd think.
No. 7, Minnesota Vikings: North Carolina Tar Heels DE Robert Quinn. The one-time best defensive line in football is ahead of only three teams in sacks. Though they might go quarterback, D line depth wins Super Bowls.
No. 10, Cleveland Browns: Alabama WR Julio Jones. Ten minutes later, the Green-Jones debate is forever settled. No, it will go on forever, especially if furious rivals Arizona and Cleveland ever play each other.
No. 12, Washington Redskins: Miami Hurricanes DT Allen Bailey. Turning a 4-3 tackle into a nose tackle hasn't worked out all that well for Washington so far.
No. 14, Houston Texans: Miami CB Brandon Harris. With one of the league's worst secondaries, which we were told would improve once Dunta Robinson left for the Falcons, this is the obvious choice for Houston.
No. 18, Miami Dolphins: Auburn QB Cam Newton. So perfect that there's no way it'll happen, because the NFL is like that. He'll end up being a Cardinals backup or something really NFLy. The Dolphins could finally run the offense that they've always dreamed of, with the Wildcat boasting an actual triple threat quarterback on the edge or in motion. If there's a football god ...
No. 24, Pittsburgh Steelers: Florida OL Mike Pouncey. Same story as Newton. Reuniting the Pouncey Bros would be a great story and likely good for their development, so this Pouncey will assuredly go to Denver.
No. 25, New York Giants: Georgia DE Justin Houston. Love this. When you're good at something, keep pressing the advantage. The Giants have had one of the league's best pass rushes for years now, with their backup defensive ends often being worth playing in IDP fantasy leagues. No reason to stop now.
No. 29, New Orleans Saints: Alabama RB Mark Ingram. I don't really want to talk about this.
No. 31, Atlanta Falcons: North Carolina LB Bruce Carter. See here -- thinking the team goes offensive line.