As the season approaches the playoffs, it’s time to look at next year’s top college prospects. There will be several good quarterbacks taken in the 2011 NFL Draft and Andrew Luck will get things started by being selected number one overall by the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers took Jimmy Clausen last year but Luck’s intangibles are so good that he can’t be passed up, especially by a team in desperate need of a franchise quarterback. Luck could take the Panthers from pretenders to contenders, much like Sam Bradford did for the St. Louis Rams this year. Here is a mock draft of the top five picks of the 2011 NFL Draft.
No. 1: Carolina Panthers – Andrew Luck: I wrote enough about Luck in the introduction but the main points are that he is a solid quarterback who could turn the franchise around in instantly.
No. 2: Buffalo Bills – Patrick Peterson: The Bills need defense. The offense has put up pretty good production this year and the emergence of Steve Johnson has filled a major gap at the receiver position. Ryan Fitzpatrick has also played well and is a great decision maker. The defense hasn’t been able to pull through. The offense has put up big points in several games but the team has come away empty handed because the defense let up even more points. A shut down corner is exactly what the Bills need, and is what they would be getting in Peterson.
No. 3: Cincinnati Bengals – Da’Quan Bowers: Bowers has proved he can be a big time player, recorded by far his best season at Clemson. His draft stock has sky rocketed since the beginning of the year and he is exactly the type of player the Bengals need. I don’t think he will solve all of the Bengals problems because they have too many, but putting pressure on the opposing quarterback will create problems for opponents.
No. 4: Detroit Lions – Prince Amukamara: Amukamara will add to a Lions defense that is starting to come together. The Lions have went from being a terrible team to a contender in 2011. If they weren’t in a tough division like the NFC north I would say they could be the cinderella playoff team of 2011 but I don’t think they can out-play the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, and Minnesota Vikings. Adding a shut down corner will add to this team of superstars (Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh, etc…).
No. 5: Arizona Cardinals – Jake Locker: The Cardinals need a quarterback. I am not a big fan of Locker but I think the Cardinals will choose him over Ryan Mallet and Cam Newton. It all comes down to the scouting combine. If Mallet out performs Locker then he could be taken here but I don’t see Cam Newton going this high. I definitely think the Cardinals will take a quarterback here though, unless they sign a free agent quarterback. Derek Anderson isn’t getting it done, Matt Leinhart was cut at the beginning of the season, and there rookie quarterbacks haven’t been overly impressive.