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2011 NFL Mock Draft

POSTED:
Cam Newton
Cam Newton
Michael Buckner/Getty

Since there are only 113,000 of these out there, I figured I needed to do one. For the record:

1. Carolina - CAM NEWTON, QB, Auburn

After being the chief asshole of the lockout process Panthers owner Jerry Richardson doubles down and takes with the first overall pick the kid with the alien musculature and the painfully fake smile who looks like he might end up being the A-Rod of football. This could work out or this could explode kind of awesomely. Can’t wait for the headlines after Steve Smith hurls inevitable embarrassing and distracting Newton girlfriend Miley Cyrus (or maybe Snooki?) through a plate-glass window after a November road loss to Tampa.

 2. Denver - MARCEL DAREUS, DT, Alabama

Having John Fox make this pick right after Richardson, who just fired him, sets this up as an outstanding vengeance/karma pick. In Denver’s place I would go with probable immediate megastar wideout A.J. Green here, to really make it hurt, but they probably think they can’t take Green, and the fun part is why: ousted coach Josh McDaniels in recent years spent two high picks on jury-still-out offensive skill guys (Tim Tebow and Demariyus Thomas) and left the team with only two players on defense likely to still be Broncos two years from now. Even better, those two defensive cornerstones are Champ Bailey, who turns 33 in June and in 2014 will be making $10 million a year as a 36 year-old cornerback, and Elvis Dumervil, a 5’11” d-lineman with a torn pec. So the Broncos probably feel like they have to go defense here, which is too bad, because Kyle Orton throwing to Brandon Lloyd and A.J. Green would be fun to watch.

But Fox will take Dareus here, in the hope that the former Alabama stud quietly and consistently dominates while back in Carolina, Newton blows up in old boss Richardson’s face – either in a torrent of ugly TO-ish scandal-headlines, or via the more painful, death-by-a-thousand-cuts alternative, i.e. multiple agonizing years of Jamarcus Russellesque/Joey Harringtonoid ineffectiveness aggravated by vain hopes and brutal self-deceptions (like the inevitable hiring of a new offensive coordinator, leading to inevitable training camp news stories: “For Top Pick Newton, Is Switch Finally Coming On?”), petering out ultimately in another 1-15 season five years from now. Such a scenario might actually kill Richardson, and yet this is the obvious karmic storyline buried in this draft and straining to emerge. I don’t know if it will happen, but it’s there. 

 3. Buffalo - VON MILLER, LB, Texas A&M

Buffalo needs a quarterback, but their owner is nine hundred years old and wants to "win now," so they go defense. Miller's "sure thing" status added to Buffalo's increasingly doomstruck, LA-Clipperesque vibe means this poor kid is probably a few weeks away from microfracture surgery.

 4. Cincinnati - AJ GREEN, WR, Georgia

The sad thing is the Bengals will surely find a way to fuck this up anyway, no matter how great this kid is.

 5. Arizona - BLAINE GABBERT, QB, Missouri

I get that the Missouri quarterback physically grades out just like a string of other first-round passers who’ve succeeded in recent years, but I can’t get past his name, which sounds to me like "FLABBY GERBIL FART.” I’d pick Newton over Gabbert just on name alone. “Cam Newton” sounds like a franchise quarterback. On the other hand, there’s some kind of linguistic link between a certain school of sucky quarterbacks: Tony Eason, Kelly Stouffer, David Klingler, Matt Leinart… If that were one of those “Fill in the next name in this sequence” questions on the SAT, you’d write in “Blaine Gabbert,” right?

Plus, only 16 touchdowns last year? You have to have gigantic balls to play quarterback in the NFL, and a college quarterback at a major D-1 program (one with tomato cans like McNeese State and Miami of Ohio on its schedule) who throws just 16 touchdowns in a season is a guy who is not throwing in the end zone on 3rd and 6 from the 14 yard line when his team is up 43-6. He seems like a nice kid and I hope it works out, but I’d be terrified if I were Arizona.

 6. Cleveland - ROBERT QUINN, DE, North Carolina

Because you can never spend enough top-10 picks on guys coming off one-year NCAA suspensions who got 90% of their sacks in three games and have possibly recurring brain tumors whose possible recurringness is confirmed by doctors just a week before the draft.

 7. San Francisco - PATRICK PETERSON, CB, LSU

I always get nervous when the experts say a cornerback is “the total package, except for his one-on-one coverage ability.” What does that mean?

 8. Tennessee - CHRISTIAN PONDER, QB, Florida State

The Titans had planned to wait to reach for a quarterback later on, but they realize at the last minute that they might as well do it with their first pick, since Washington, Minnesota, Miami and Jacksonville are getting ready to blow their first-round picks on third-round quarterbacks, too.

9. Dallas - TYRON SMITH, OT, USC

This is yet another choice karmic-payback setup for another lockout villain. Omnipresent NFL blowhard Jerry Jones currently has a hugely disappointing on-field product to go with the world’s largest mortgage payment on that monstrosity of a stadium of his, and therefore must have a stress level approximating Hitler’s after the Soviets crossed the Oder river. So he must be wigging hugely over what to do with this #9 overall pick. If Jones falls in love with the USC kid Tyron Smith, karma dictates that the next o-tackle, probably BC’s Anthony Castonzo, will have a dynamite year with Detroit, picking a few slots later.

10. Washington - JAKE LOCKER, QB, Washington

The thing is, you would think that with all of these different coaches, regimes, quarterbacks, and draft choices, that the Redskins would have gotten good by accident somehow by now. This isn’t baseball, where phenomena like the Pittsburgh Pirates make sense. On the contrary, the Redskins’ continued suckitude is a huge statistical anomaly, something magical; it’s seemingly inexplicable on the one hand, but it also appears to have its own logic that we recognize instinctively as we experience it live. And so Mike Shanahan going into full Mike Shanahan crazy-eye mode and announcing to the press corps after the draft that Locker is “the next Jake Plummer” (and the press corps collectively not knowing if he means this as a positive) is pure Redskins. It just makes too much sense for it not to happen.

11. Houston - PRINCE AMUKAMARA, CB, Nebraska

Prince is another "sure thing" pick, which unfortunately means the t-minus to a helmetless motorcycle accident, Kardashian involvement, or microfracture surgery cannot be a very big number.

 12. Minnesota - DA'QUAN BOWERS, DE, Clemson

This is a good place to introduce a draft concept I call the “Dog Rule.” Out of a possible pool of hundreds of draftable players, you get to make seven picks a year on average – and the difference between success and failure for most teams is how many times you spend one of those precious picks on a player who gives you nothing at all. Think of Jarvis Moss, Derrick Harvey, Ted Ginn and Jamaal Anderson: upon such names the careers of GMs have died. The only way to keep your NFL front-office job is to consistently pick guys who maybe aren’t stars but will at least play in the league, and at the same time avoid spending high picks on Matt Leinart and Tye Hill. So your number one task is to avoid dogs.

To me, that means being aggressive and uncompromising in eliminating tons of guys from your draft board. If there are 300 players on most teams’ boards, have only 50 or 60 on yours. That means instantly eliminating anyone who’s hit his girlfriend in the head with a pipe, has had a rod inserted into his femur, or is a running back with 4.8 speed, and so on. The Patriots reportedly had a rule for years: “No assholes.” This is good policy. You might pass on a star or two by removing so many people from your board. But you’ll avoid a lot more dogs if you stick to picking healthy, productive, non-assholes who try hard.

I don’t know a whole lot about Da’Quan Bowers as a person, but it seems to me that if you’re shitting your pants about your new first-round pick’s rebuilt knee the night after the draft, it’s automatically not a good pick. Somebody is going to pull the trigger on this poor kid – I hope he pans out, but why risk it?

 13. Detroit - ANTHONY CASTONZO, OT, Boston College

Their last BC lineman with tackle-guard flexibility, Gosder Cherilus, was a so-so pick, but again, Castonzo will have a great year just to make Jerry Jones miserable while Cowboy fans spend the year watching Tyron Smith turnstile d-ends straight into Tony Romo’s breastplate. Detroit has a lot of karmic cargo to carry this year: they also get to make Denver fans miserable every time they trot out third-string corner Alphonso Smith to get scorched by Greg Jennings and Johnny Knox, since Smith is the guy Josh McDaniels first traded a 2010 first-rounder (which turned into star safety Earl Thomas) to get, then traded to Detroit for the proverbial bag of balls.

 14. St. Louis - JULIO JONES, WR, Alabama

This is the part of every mock draft where you realize that your last twelve picks were probably completely wrong. Picks like Jones-to-Rams, which make perfect sense, almost never happen. You might as well stop reading because it only gets more wronger from here.

 15. Miami - ANDY DALTON, QB, TCU

Miami’s situation with quarterbacks is an almost exact parallel to the Redskins’ entire team outlook. The franchise is very well-run all the way around, but they just can’t stop fucking up the quarterback thing, to the point where it’s now clearly a supernatural issue, i.e. they’ve gone far beyond the time when they should have found a good QB by accident. Dalton would probably be great with Jacksonville or Oakland or Washington, but the instant Miami picks him, he’s going to start morphing into Joey Harrington, his ginger hair disappearing into a brown bowl cut in the middle of his interview on ESPN with Todd McShay, a la the Michael Jackson “Black and White” video.

 16. Jacksonville – RYAN KERRIGAN, DE, Purdue

See above. The Jaguars have the same problem with edge rushers that Miami has with quarterbacks, and they keep hurling draft picks at the problem in a gathering frenzy of bad luck and faith-based scouting. Their defensive line depth chart, with Derrick Harvey, Austen Lane, the injured Aaron Kampmann and the now-departed Quentin Groves, etc, recalls a murder victim with 49 stab wounds, where the detectives all stand around saying things like, “This is clearly overkill,” and “What could have made anyone that angry?”

 17. New England – CAM JORDAN, DE, California

In the ten minutes it takes to make this selection, Bill Belichick will trade out of this pick, use the extra selections from that transaction to move around the board several times, then trade back into the 17th selection, somehow gaining two 2012 second-rounders and a conditional 2017 seventh in the process. The wives of all six of his trading partners will subsequently report “feeling something, like maybe an arm” reach up their skirts in investigative fashion during this ten-minute sequence.

18. San Diego – J.J. WATT, DE, Wisconsin

Now that the bad teams have finished taking fliers on third-round quarterbacks and medical risks, the good teams can settle down to the dreary business of picking solid guys who will play in the league for 10 years.

19. New York Giants – MARK INGRAM, RB, Alabama

See above. Ingram will probably be the offensive rookie of the year, so naturally he won’t go until the 19th pick.

 20. Tampa Bay – ALDON SMITH, DE, Missouri

See above again. It’s just so much more fun picking on the bad teams. This Smith kid looks like Spiderman and could easily turn into the next Simeon Rice down there.

 21. Kansas City – NICK FAIRLEY, DT, Auburn

Fairley I’m guessing will be this year’s winner of the annual Aaron Rodgers/Brady Quinn “Hours of Green-Room Agony While ESPN Trains Gleeful Close-Ups on Freefalling Top Prospect” award.

 22. Indianapolis – NATE SOLDER, OT, Colorado

Not to steal from Bill Simmons, but the reappearance of the Peyton Manning Face was one of the truly touching storylines of the 2010 season. It was like being reunited with a missing child long since given up for dead. I can’t wait to see #18 throw his hands up in the air in faux-disbelief after Solder misses his 473rd consecutive cut block next year.

 23. Philadelphia – JIMMY SMITH, CB, Colorado

Little-known fact: Andy Reid’s waistline grows .09 millimeters with every draft pick he makes. At the 2023 draft, after a ten-selection rookie class, his stomach will open and a dozen baby rhinoceroses will jump out.

24. New Orleans – ADRIAN CLAYBORN, DE, Iowa

This is the stage of the draft when you take a break from drawing doodles of medieval daggers flying into Mel Kiper’s eyes and flip the station to whatever network The Fugitive is currently playing on for four or five minutes – just enough time to watch the scene where they figure out Kimble is in Chicago because he made the phone call near an elevated train.

 25. Seattle – RYAN MALLET, QB, Arkansas

This will be really funny because Pete Carroll once lost an NFL job riding exactly the same player, minus the myriad off-field character concerns, in Drew Bledsoe. That said, Mallet has those gigantic balls mentioned previously in the Gabbert section and threw for a million touchdowns in the SEC. He’s going to cost somebody a job, either among the guys who pick him or the guys who pass him over.

 26. Baltimore – AARON WILLIAMS, S, Texas

Pick 26: we catch an exhausted Mike Mayock checking his watch for the first time before looking up and glaring homicidally at the inexplicably still-cheery Steve Mariucci. Mooch asks: Mike, whaddya think, is Aaron Williams the best pure safety in this draft? I think Aaron Williams is the best pure safety in the draft! Mayock says nothing, imagines rivers of blood…

 27. Atlanta – DANNY WATKINS, G, Baylor

Deion Sanders here wishes his old Falcons had taken a cornerback. Warren Sapp thinks Atlanta should have taken Corey Liuget, the bowling-ball three technique, because “it all starts down in the trenches.” Brian Baldinger, meanwhile, thinks the tough, dorky-looking white offensive lineman is just what Atlanta needs; just after he gives this opinion, Baldinger’s right pinky finally finishes falling off.

 28. New England – HANK PUDSNIFFER, G, Northwestern Iowa School of Mines

Belichick rattles off at least one “What the fuck?” pick in every draft, where he spends a first or second-round choice on a guy who isn’t even in the CBS list of 1000 draft prospects; all you can find is one grainy YouTube video of the guy performing in an arm-wrestling contest on Croatian television. Note: I actually think the Pats end up with Mark Ingram somehow, but there’s a WTF pick in there somewhere, guaranteed.

 29. Chicago – COREY LIUGET, DT, Illinois

Back to The Fugitive. Harrison Ford in the one-armed man’s house, finds the suspicious pictures from the fishing trip.

 30. New York Jets – CAMERON HEYWARD, DE, Ohio State

Angel on right shoulder whispers: Matt, talk about how Cam Heyward, son of the legendary Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, is a perfect fit in the Jets’ 3-4, and a natural replacement for aging warrior Shaun Ellis!

Devil on left shoulder whispers: Matt, write that Michelle Ryan had Heyward’s feet in for a personal workout and gave husband Rex the thumbs-up with all ten toes in her mouth. Describe ESPN zooming in on Heyward’s glistening toe-hair, and Michelle’s satiated, glazed-over eyes, as Rex, off-camera, comments, “We think Cam can help us a lot on first and second down…”

 31. Pittsburgh – MIKE POUNCEY, G, Florida

Rich Eisen: “This is a nice feel-good story for yet another completely fucked rust-belt city where all the jobs have vanished and all that’s left is hollowed-out factories, mortgage fraud, and teen prostitution.” Deion Sanders: “I really think Pittsburgh should have taken a cornerback. How’re you gonna do Mike Tomlin like that, Dan Rooney? C’mon, man!”

32. Green Bay – MUHAMMAD WILKERSON, DE, Temple

Nineteen hours later, it ends here! Only six more rounds to go.

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Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone. He’s the author of five books and a winner of the National Magazine Award for commentary. Please direct all media requests to taibbimedia@yahoo.com.

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