Now that we’re two whole days removed from the 2010 NFL Draft, it’s time to turn our sights to 2011. And what better way of doing that is there than by breaking out the first 2011 mock draft?
I know, I know. A 2011 Mock Draft is absurd. Ridiculous. Hell, it’s borderline pathetic.
The gel is still fresh in Mel Kiper’s hair, Mike Mayock’s voice is still echoing in our ears, and NFL personnel men are just now closing the books on dozens of undrafted free agents. How can we even possibly look towards next year already? Well, because we’re sick. Because we’re obsessed. Because we love this stuff.
And if even daring to do a mock draft 365 days in advance wasn’t enough of an act of hubris, I’ve taken the liberty of telling you just how every team’s going to finish next season, as well.
With that I present you the first of several 2011 NFL mock drafts. Enjoy, you sickos.
Minnesota Vikings: Jurrell Casey, DT, Southern California
In the dream of dreams for the NFL, Brett Favre goes out (for real, this is it) with a Super Bowl ring 13 years after his first one, in an unforgettable Super Bowl win over Ray Lewis and the Ravens. In addition to Favre's calling it quits at season’s end, so does DT Pat Williams. Looking to shore up the interior of the defensive line, Minnesota's front office brass grabs USC junior DT Jurrell Casey with the final pick of the 2011 first round.
Baltimore Ravens: Curtis Brown, CB, Texas
Baltimore wins the AFC North, beats the Patriots in a brutal-to-watch slugfest in the AFC Divisional Round, and then shocks the Colts in Indy in the AFC championship game. A year after striking gold in 2010 second-round pick Sergio Kindle, the Ravens go back to the well and grab the uber-athletic Brown out of Texas.
Indianapolis Colts: Matt Reynolds, OT, BYU
After cake-walking through the regular season and playoffs, the Colts are beaten up and bruised by an angry Ravens team and upset on their home field in the AFC Championship. Matt Reynolds, an All-Mountain West performer in 2010, leaves Bringham Young early and is scooped up by Bill Polian at No. 30.
New Orleans Saints: Bruce Carter, LB, North Carolina
The Saints cruise to a 12-4 record and a second straight NFC South title, but lose to Minnesota in a classic rematch of the 2009 NFC title game. Drew Brees wins MVP honors, but the defense shows some vulnerabilities in the NFC championship game. Carter, considered undersized by some, wins the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award and is plugged right into Gregg Williams’ scheme in New Orleans. Five UNC defenders are taken in the first 29 picks.
Dallas Cowboys: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Dez Bryant does Michael Irvin’s No. 88 proud, Sean Lee stars at inside linebacker and the Cowboys win the NFC East for the second straight season. But the ‘Boys fall to the Vikings in Minnesota for the second straight year in the postseason. They look to upgrade their offensive line. The 6-8 Solder earns All-Big 12 honors and is scooped up by Dallas with the 28th pick.
New England Patriots: Mike Pouncey, C/G, Florida
Though most pundits ink the Jets and Dolphins in as favorites in the AFC East, Tom Brady and Co. find a way to win yet another division title in 2010. In the playoffs, the Pats get by the Texans before falling to the top-seeded Colts in Indianapolis. Bill Belichick drafted three Gators in 2010. He takes another in 2011, locking up the second half of the Pouncey twins with the 27th selection.
New York Giants: Quan Sturdivant, LB, North Carolina
The Giants bounce back from a woeful end to the 2009 season and lock up a wild-card berth after a 10-6 2010 campaign. After a first-round playoff victory over San Francisco out west, they get the doors blown off in New Orleans. Though Jonathan Goff plays admirably in his first season as the full-time MLB in New York, Jerry Reese and Co. grab Sturdivant at No. 26 overall. Another linebacker out of North Carolina — a guy named Lawrence Taylor — worked out fairly well in New York.
New York Jets: Austin Pettis, WR, Boise State
The Jets fall to Indianapolis in the AFC Divisional Round, ending a season that started with HBO’s “Hard Knocks” and finished with a star-studded roster coming together for an impressive 10-6 season. The Jets struck gold with a Boise State player in the 2010 first round. They go to Idaho again for the 6-3 Pettis.
San Diego Chargers: Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
The Chargers win yet another AFC West title, but are upset in the first playoffs by the wild-card New York Jets for the second straight year. Yes, Mr. Tomlinson beats his old mates in San Diego. Rahim Moore leaves school early after an All-Pac-10 campaign and goes to the Bolts at No. 24.
San Francisco 49ers: Greg Romeus, DE, Pittsburgh
The 49ers return to the playoffs for the first time since the Jeff Garcia/T.O. era by winning a watered-down NFC West. Though they host the Giants in the opening round, San Francisco is dispatched in a close one. Romeus would have been a first-round pick had he entered the draft in 2010. He’s scooped up by San Francisco at No. 23 in 2011.
Green Bay Packers: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
Green Bay loses in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year, this time falling to a red hot Dallas Cowboys squad in Big D. It’s not often a Heisman Trophy-winning running back slips to the latter half of the first round. In Ingram, the Packers get a dangerous addition to an already explosive offense.
Houston Texans: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
The Texans qualify for the postseason for the first time in their nine-year existence, but are quickly dispatched in the wild-card round by the New England Patriots. Houston went with a corner in Kareem Jackson in the first round in 2010. They find his batterymate in Amukamara in 2011.
Miami Dolphins: Allen Bailey, DT, Miami
Brandon Marshall, Jared Odrick and Karlos Dansby prove to be worthy investments, but the Dolphins fall just short of the postseason in 2010. Parcells and Co. keep it local by grabbing the first Hurricanes first-rounder since Kenny Phillips in ’08. Bailey earns All-ACC honors in his senior season and solidifies his draft status as a first-round selection. Under newly hired Miami defensive line coach Rick Petri, he should flourish. The ‘Phins go defensive line for the second straight year in 2011.
Atlanta Falcons: Jared Crick, DT/DE, Nebraska
Though he certainly benefited from the constant double teams devoted to Ndamukong Suh in 2009, Jared Crick showed off some serious skills in his sophomore season in Lincoln. In 2010, he emerges as the Big 12’s top defensive player. The Falcons just miss the playoffs and grab Crick with the 19th pick.
Chicago Bears: Terrance Toliver, WR, LSU
Jay Cutler has a Pro Bowl season under Mike Martz and Julius Peppers immediately improves the defense, but the Bears still fail to make the postseason in 2010. Toliver, an afterthought to A.J. Green and Julio Jones in the SEC in 2010, quietly emerges as a top 20 pick and ends up in Chicago as a first-round selection.
Washington Redskins: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Mike Shanahan gets his QB of the future in the golden-armed Luck. At 6-4, 235 pounds, Luck has NFL size and an NFL arm. Groomed by former NFL gunslinger Jim Harbaugh in Palo Alto, Luck emerges as one of the college game’s top quarterbacks in 2010.
Cincinnati Bengals: Will Hill, S, Florida
The Bengals took another Gator, defensive end Carlos Dunlap, in the second round of the 2010 draft. They’ll go to the Gainesville well again in 2011 with Hill. A superior athlete out of New Jersey, Hill stands out in a Gators secondary that loses 2010 draft picks Joe Haden and Major Wright.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
Ben Roethlisberger’s six-game suspension is too much for the Steelers to overcome, and Pittsburgh misses the playoffs for the second straight year. Santonio Holmes is missed tremendously, and the passing game suffers. Insert Baldwin, another junior wide-out with tremendous upside. A local guy out of Pitt, the 6-foot-5 Baldwin is compared to Larry Fitzgerald throughout his junior campaign.
Seattle Seahawks: Adrian Clayborn, DE/DT, Iowa
Pete Carroll and Jon Schneider’s rebuilding plan continues in the 2011 draft, where the versatile Clayborn falls to them at 14. The Seattle pass rush suffers in 2010 without Daryl Tapp or Patrick Kerney and the ‘Hawks enter the 2011 draft knowing the position is their top need. Clayborn, the star of the 2009 Orange Bowl, finds his way into the top 15 after an All-Big Ten campaign in Iowa City.
Tennessee Titans: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
Yep, another Tar Heel in the top 15. After another year of missing the playoffs, the Titans think long and hard about Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck here, but instead go with a defensive end to pair with 2010 first-round pick Derrick Morgan.
Denver Broncos: Deunta Williams, CB, North Carolina
Tim Tebow sells a lot of jerseys, gives the Broncos a ton of national interest and makes two or three incredible plays out of Josh McDaniels’ “WildGator” formation in his rookie year, but the Broncos suffer through a losing season in 2010. With the 12th pick, they address their aging secondary and grab a do-everything cornerback in Williams. The run on UNC defenders in the 2011 draft has officially begun.
Philadelphia Eagles: Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina
Huh? Yes, the Eagles discover early on in the 2010 season just how valuable Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook were to their team and locker room, struggling out of the gates and never quite recovering. With the 11th overall pick, the Eagles go with the former top high school recruit in the country. UNC’s defense is tops in the ACC in ’10, and Austin emerges as the loaded unit’s best pro prospect.
New England Patriots (via Raiders): Greg Jones, LB, Michigan State
An All-American in 2009, Jones emerges in 2010 as the best linebacker in all of college football. Courtesy of the Richard Seymour trade, the Pats get a top 10 pick and the 2010 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year to pair alongside Jerod Mayo in their linebacker corps for 2011.
Kansas City Chiefs: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
After a fourth consecutive year of missing the playoffs, the Chiefs address their offensive line needs and grab the monstrous Anthony Castonzo out of BC. At 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds, he earns first-team All-ACC honors in 2010 and finds his way into the top 10 come next April.
Cleveland Browns: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
Eric Mangini’s defense improves significantly in 2010, but the offense struggles. Colt McCoy is the heir apparent at quarterback and 2010 second_round selection Montario Hardesty shows flashes at RB in his rookie year. The wide-out of the future, though, is Notre Dame star Michael Floyd. The third wide-out taken in the top eight, Floyd brings athleticism and size to the Browns’ receiving corps.
Arizona Cardinals: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
After two consecutive NFC West division titles, the Cardinals suffer through a difficult season and miss the playoffs in 2010. Matt Leinart shows he’s got the goods to play quarterback in the NFL, but needs a tackle to watch his blind side in the desert. Carimi, an all-business left tackle who’ll draw comparisons to fellow ex-Badger Joe Thomas, is the first offensive tackle off the board in 2011.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
After another year of missing the playoffs, the Jaguars look to the future and grab the 6-7 Mallett with the sixth overall pick. A former transfer from Michigan, Mallett leads the SEC in passing under Bobby Petrino in 2010 and becomes a national household name. Jacksonville scoops up the underclassman with the No. 6 pick.
Detroit Lions: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch instantly upgrade the Detroit defense up front, but major holes in the secondary are exposed throughout 2010. Though the Lions win a few more games than they did in 2009, they go winless in the loaded NFC North and “earn” yet another top five pick in 2011. A cousin of Santana and Sinorice Moss, Peterson is the top corner taken in the draft and an immediate starter in Motown.
Carolina Panthers: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
In the final year of the John Fox era in Carolina, the young Panthers suffer through their worst campaign since their 1-15 season in 2001. Defense is the main reason. Julius Peppers’ pass rushing presence is desperately missed, and Jimmy Clausen and Matt Moore each suffer through tremendous growing pains under center. Cameron Heyward — a 6-6 sack demon out of Ohio State — steps up his game in 2010 and is the first defensive player off the board next April.
Buffalo Bills: Jake Locker, QB, Washington
Though rookie C.J. Spiller breaks four touchdowns of 50-plus yards in 2010, the Bills miss the playoffs for the 11th straight season and finish the year with the AFC’s worst record. Locker, a guy a lot of pundits said would have been a first-round pick in 2009, lights up the Pac-10 in 2010 and is selected as Chan Gailey’s quarterback of the future in Buffalo.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
The “Green vs. Jones” debate — already a hot button issue in SEC country — goes national in the months leading up to the 2011 draft. After St. Louis takes Georgia’s top wide-out, the young Bucs — coming off another losing season in the NFC South — give Josh Freeman a go-to target in Alabama’s Jones. Paired with 2010 second-round pick Arrelious Benn, the Bucs suddenly have one of the top 1-2 young wide-out duos in the league.
St. Louis Rams: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
Though quarterback Sam Bradford shows flashes in his rookie season, the Rams suffer through another losing season and finish in the cellar of the NFC West. Looking to give their franchise quarterback an offensive weapon to grow old with, the Rams take the first wide-out to go first overall since Keyshawn Johnson and take the all-everything Green. A 6-4, 210 target with hands of glue, Green dominates the SEC in 2010 despite questionable quarterback play in Athens and leaves early for the NFL draft. -- Peter Schrager