The bros from Mocking The Draft have published their first 2011 mock draft since the NFL Draft order was (sort of) finalized last night. It’s excellent as ever, and features a write-up for each first-round pick. Let’s focus on what MTD is sending the NFC South’s way.
With the No. 1 pick, the Carolina Panthers are expected to pick Stanford Cardinal QB Andrew Luck. This is the popular consensus — if Luck declares, he’ll likely be picked here. I think it’s a terrible mistake, as Carolina’s offensive line might be the worst NFL line I can remember witnessing, and the mobility upgrade Luck would bring won’t be enough to keep the eight-figure rookie off the mat. This draft is very, very weak in offensive linemen, so expect Carolina to at least collect them later on.
At No. 20, MTD has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking Iowa Hawkeyes DE Adrian Clayborn. The Bucs picked back-to-back defensive linemen to start their 2009 draft, so clearly their defensive front is a focus. Claybord could slip after a relatively disappointing 2010, and does not yet have elite NFL speed, but the Falcons wouldn’t look forward to facing him. He’s strong against both the run and pass.
The New Orleans Saints are down for Michigan St. Spartans LB Greg Jones at No. 26. Makes sense here too — Jones could be the future Jonathan Vilma while playing elsewhere in the front seven, and Vilma’s going to need a replacement one of these years.
Not sure about the Falcons pick at No. 32 of UCLA Bruins DT Jurrell Casey. Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith love drafting defensive linemen, and have drafted three defensive tackles in the past two drafts (including a first-rounder and third-rounder). But if they go defensive line early, I’d imagine it would be defensive end in an effort to find someone to replace John Abraham in what’s been a very effective rotation.
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