I'm not the biggest fan of mock drafts. I'm not really sure what the point is, speculating on what will happen, starting conversation...I'll go with it. Looking for curveballs, you won't find too many big ones here. What I do think will happen is a boatload of trades, making all this meaningless.
Let's jump right in to VanRam's 2011 NFL mock draft.
1. Carolina Panthers - Blaine Gabbert, QB: Rebuilding projects start with QBs. Apologies to Mel Kiper's one-time favorite Jimmy Clausen. He probably deserves a shot, and might still get it...somewhere else.
2. Denver Broncos - Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama: Need to upgrade that d-line.
3. Buffalo Bills - Cam Newton, QB, Auburn: Cam lands in Buffalo, an understudy to Harvard product Ryan Fitzpatrick. What kind of trouble could the kid get in Buffalo?
4. Cincinnati Bengals - Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU: Peterson is probably the best player on the board this year, and I can't imagine he'll fall despite the Bengals' other glaring needs.
5. Arizona Cardinals - Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M: Arizona needs a pass rusher in their 3-4, and they get a shot at the best 3-4 OLB in this draft.
6. Cleveland Browns - Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn: Fairley's a risk, but Pat Shurmur probably learned just how important it is to have a good defensive line.
7. San Francisco 49ers - Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska: Just throw away from Prince, Sam.
8. Tennessee Titans - Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson: This knee thing is a nothing burger, and the Titans need to rebuild on their defensive front.
9. Dallas Cowboys - Tyron Smith, OT, USC: Alex Barron started games for them last year, usually a sign that your team needs an offensive tackle.
10. Washington Redskins - Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina: Yeah, I avoided the popular pick here. Do you remember just how bad this defense was last year? So bad that the Rams put up 30 points on them.
11. Houston Texans - J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin: Watt is now seen as the best five-technique end in this class, and Wade Philips will need one.
12. Minnesota Vikings - Jake Locker, QB, Washington: A little high for some tastes and the popular curveball pick right now.
13. Detroit Lions - Nate Solder, OT, Colorado: They've needed a tackle for a long, long time. Hopefully, they won't need a QB in 2012 too.
14. St. Louis Rams - Julio Jones, WR, Alabama: have we not talked this one to death?
15. Miami Dolphins - Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama: Ronnie Brown is out on the street, and Ingram is a needed weapon for their offense.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars - Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri: I'm kind of surprised he fell this far. If Kampmann is back next year, all the better, but they still need a pass rusher.
17. New England Patriots - Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal: Surely this pick will be traded. At any rate, Belichick gets a new DE.
18. San Diego Chargers - Muhammed Wilkerson, DE, Temple: A fast riser on draft boards, SD needs to rebuild their offensive line. They need a nose tackle too.
19. New York Giants - Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College: A pretty well stocked team at many positions, but keeping Eli effective is the key to their success.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue: Tampa had no pass rush last year.
21. Kansas City Chiefs - Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor: Pioli is a Belichick disciple and KC lacks a nose tackle. Make sense?
22. Indianapolis Colts - Gabe Carmini, OT, Wisconsin: Remember how human Peyton Manning looked last year? They could also use a receiver.
23. Philadelphia Eagles - Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State: Another offensive line in flux.
24. New Orleans Saints - Justin Houston, DE, Georgia: The Saints had more than enough of a pass rush to give the Rams fits last year, but they're hardly elite. This could put them at the next level. Liuget's a possibility here too, imo.
25. Seattle Seahawks - Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida: This one's just too easy.
26. Baltimore Ravens - Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland: Surprised? Don't be. All this Flacco talk during the offseason is more about the need to get some offensive weapons around him.
27. Atlanta Falcons - Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona: Atlanta needs a pass rusher to stay competitive. They'll find a receiver or another offensive weapon in the next round.
28. New England Patriots - Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pitt: Another DE? Yes, I'm lazy. This pick probably gets swapped too.
29. Chicago Bears - Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois: Liguet could get drafted as high as #14. If he's here, the Bears need a DT. Stephen Paea is a possibility too.
30. New York Jets - Cameron Heyward, OLB, Ohio State: Remember Vernon Gholston? Of course not. They need another pass rusher to get over their last bust. Would they really go for another Ohio State guy too?
31. Pittsburgh Steelers - Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado: One of their corners in the Super Bowl was Gay, literally. Lame sophomoric humor aside, they need a d-back.
32. Green Bay Packers - Christian Ballard, DE/DT, Iowa: This is the biggest shocker, but Ballard wowed everyone with his pro day and reminded them just how good he is. He'll fit right in as a DE in their 3-4 front.