2011 NFL Mock Draft: Final Projection Before Thursday's First Round

NEW YORK - APRIL 22: A general view of the stage during the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 25, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

In the final 2011 NFL Mock Draft of the draft season from SBNation.com, four quarterbacks and 13 defensive linemen are selected in the first round. Enjoy the draft tonight!

I know what you're thinking. Let me just say that I'm as glad that this is my final 2011 NFL Mock Draft of the year as you are that you're nearly through reading them.

The 2011 NFL Draft begins tonight; with that in mind, this is the final mock draft for SBNation.com of this draft season. This scenario will not include any trades, as we've already done the trade thing this week. As such, this mock draft, like all mock drafts, will be horrifically incorrect come this time tomorrow morning. Even still, I'll call it my first - and last - predictive mock draft of the year.

It's been a pleasure, ladies and gentlemen. Enjoy the first round tonight.

1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn. This pick still isn't a mortal lock. It is still, by far, the most likely scenario. The whole organization isn't sold on Jimmy Clausen, and Newton is an elite-level talent.

2. Denver Broncos: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama. Other names are being floated here, Von Miller and Patrick Peterson chief among them. I believe that's to drum up trade interest. Dareus is still the best fit.

3. Buffalo Bills: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M. It's possible that the Bills talk themselves into taking Blaine Gabbert at the last minute. If they don't, Miller is the front-runner, with Newton and Dareus on their radar.

4. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia. The Bengals pretty much have to get a quarterback this weekend, but I don't think it'll happen here. Green is the best prospect in the draft. Look for a trade up for a QB.

5. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU. I think it's well within the realm of possibility that Gabbert falls out of the Top 5. Peterson's an elite talent and fits in very well across from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

6. Cleveland Browns: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina. Green or Peterson will go here if available; if not, it's imperative that the team get Dick Jauron a defensive building block. Quinn barely trumps Nick Fairley.

7. San Francisco 49ers: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska. San Fran would be leaving serious talent on the board with this pick, but Amukamara is a clean, potentially elite talent at a huge position of need for the 49ers.

8. Tennessee Titans: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri. Tennessee may have a really hard time letting Fairley slide past them, but if Gabbert's there, they have to take him.

9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT, USC. Dallas is a wild card in the first round, to be certain. Smith is raw, but has tremendous upside, and could start at right tackle immediately in Big D.

10. Washington Redskins: Cameron Jordan, DE, California. A prototypical 3-4 defensive end, Jordan helps the re-building Redskins while also offering some pass rush to a defense that needs it.

11. Houston Texans: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri. This, too, would be an interesting choice between Smith and Fairley. Both are potentially elite pass rushers, but Smith plays at the more important position.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn. It's tough to envision Fairley lasting past Minnesota, who would pair him with Kevin Williams to form one of the league's most feared interior pass-rushing tandems.

13. Detroit Lions: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado. Smith is a major character risk, but he's also an elite-level talent. A good coaching staff, such as the one in Detroit, could quickly mold him into a shut-down corner.

14. St. Louis Rams: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama. It's been obvious for month that the Rams were the latest Jones would be off the board. If he goes earlier, this pick is expected to be Corey Liuget.

15. Miami Dolphins: Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida. A true guard hasn't been picked in the top half of the first round since 1997 (Chris Naeole). Pouncey has a great shot at ending that run - if Miami doesn't go QB.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jake Locker, QB, Washington. Locker has too much talent to drop out of the first round. He's also got the type of character and intangibles that the Jaguars so ardently covet.

17. New England Patriots: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin. The Patriots have drafted three defensive linemen in the first round during the Bill Belichick era. They'll have a hard time not making it four with Watt.

18. San Diego Chargers: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue. This is a tough spot for the Chargers, who could really use an end. Outside linebacker remains a problem, and Kerrigan has a chance to work standing up.

19. New York Giants: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College. Tackle was a mess for the Giants last year. Castonzo addresses that need, and should also appeal to Tom Coughlin hailing from BC.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson. No player's stock has fallen further since January than Bowers'. Tampa's need at end is too strong to justify his sliding further than No. 20.

21. Kansas City Chiefs: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor. Bill Parcells has Taylor graded as a first-round pick. Chances are strong that his son-in-law - Chiefs GM Scott Pioli - does, too. The Chiefs could use a nose tackle.

22. Indianapolis Colts: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin. The Colts desperately need to address their offensive line. Carimi is the type of gritty, quick blocker that could excel on either side in Indy's system.

23. Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State. Andy Reid has long loved players like Sherrod - experienced, athletic, tough tackles that can also play inside at guard.

24. New Orleans Saints: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois. There's a very good chance that Liuget is off the board much earlier than this. Should he be there at No. 24, he's an ideal fit inside for Gregg Williams.

25. Seattle Seahawks: Andy Dalton, QB, TCU. NFL writers insist Dalton will be a first-round pick, much to the dismay of draftniks everywhere. Seattle needs a quarterback, but may prefer someone else.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple. Of the many, many different directions the Ravens could take here, getting the big, athletic yet raw Wilkerson makes the most sense long-term.

27. Atlanta Falcons: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa. Clayborn has remained firmly under the radar throughout the entire pre-draft process. He's an excellent player, and possibly an immediate starter in Atlanta.

28. New England Patriots: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama. After re-vamping their offense to a two-tight end attack last year, the missing piece is a true workhorse running back. That's what Ingram gives the Pats.

29. Chicago Bears: Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State. Unless there's a plug-and-play starter on the O-Line here - and Danny Watkins may very well qualify - Paea is the smart play as a replacement for Tommie Harris.

30. New York Jets: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA. It's tough to envision Ayers being "the guy" on the Jets' board. It's tougher to envision him sliding by Rex Ryan in this scenario. Ryan will fix his competitive disposition.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor. The Steelers could use a starter on the offensive line, and Watkins has better upside than serviceable-at-best left guard Chris Kemoeatu.

32. Green Bay Packers: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado. Bryan Bulaga seems to have settled in at right tackle, meaning a long-term replacement for Chad Clifton on the left side is still necessary.

The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft starts at 8 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, April 28th and SB Nation has everything you need to prepare for it - NFL mock drafts, draft projections, scouting reports, the full NFL draft order and more. Check it all out at SB Nation's NFL Draft Hub and our NFL Draft blog Mocking the Draft.

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