Baltimore Sun

2011 NFL mock draft (version 1.0)

With the NFL draft 19 days away, The Sun is kicking off its coverage with a mock draft. Potential targets for the Ravens' 26th overall pick are pass rushers, cornerbacks, offensive linemen and wide receivers. The last time the Ravens had the No. 26 pick was 1996, when they selected an undersized middle linebacker named Ray Lewis.

1. Carolina: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn. The Panthers need help on the defensive line, but they need to make a statement with the top pick. There's increasing reports that Carolina is favoring Newton over Blaine Gabbert.


2. Denver: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama. John Fox will be pleased that his former team is taking a quarterback because he desperately needs an anchor for his new 4-3 defense.

3. Buffalo: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M. The Bills can't take an offensive tackle this high, so they'll find a pass-rush replacement for disappointing first-round pick Aaron Maybin.


4. Cincinnati: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri. It's time for the Carson Palmer era to end, and the Bengals can start fresh with the safest quarterback available in the draft.

5. Arizona: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU. The Cardinals would want Gabbert to fall to them, but they can't complain about getting Peterson, who is considered by some to be the top prospect in this year's draft class.

6. Cleveland: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia. The Browns have been looking for that elite, playmaking wide receiver since rejoining the league.

7. San Francisco: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska. The 49ers might have to part ways with high-priced cornerback Nate Clements and drafting a talent like Amukamara would allow them to do so.

8. Tennessee: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn. Fairley's reputation as an undisciplined one-year wonder makes him a boom-or-bust pick.

9. Dallas: Tyron Smith, OT, Dallas. Smith, who has the most upside of any offensive tackle in the draft, can start right away at right tackle and eventually move to the left side.

10. Washington: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina. Quinn would be a welcomed addition to a Redskins defense that had only one player with more than 2.5 sacks last season.

11. Houston: Cameron Jordan, DE, California. With Miller and Quinn gone, the Texans take the third-best pass rusher of the draft.


12. Minnesota: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson. Questions about Bowers' knee will cause him to plummet out of the top five, but the Vikings need to find someone to replace Ray Edwards, who is set to become a free agent.

13. Detroit: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College. Castonzo's intelligence and confidence pushes him to the top of a bunched-up offensive tackle class.

14. St. Louis: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama. If Jones slips past the Redskins at No. 10, the Rams will pounce to give a legitimate weapon for Sam Bradford.

15. Miami: Mike Pouncey, C/G, Florida: The addition of Pouncey, the best interior lineman of the draft, will boost the ground game more than Alabama running back Mark Ingram.

16. Jacksonville: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue. Kerrigan fits the Jaguars' conservative draft approach and will provide a pass-rush threat opposite Aaron Kampman.

17. New England: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin. Watt's versatility and leadership ability makes him a perfect fit for the Patriots.


18. San Diego: Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri. The Chargers need to generate more pressure with Shawne Merriman gone and Larry English continuing to struggle.

19. N.Y. Giants: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois. The Giants have always placed a priority on the defensive line, and Liuget allows them to reload in the middle of it.

20. Tampa Bay: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa. The major need at defensive end outweighs the concerns over Clayborn's Erb's palsy condition, which affects the strength and range of motion in his right arm.

21. Kansas City: Danny Watkins, G, Baylor. There's no secret that the Chiefs need to get younger after going with 37-year-old Casey Wiegmann at center and 34-year-old Brian Waters at guard.

22. Indianapolis: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado. Solder's athletic style fits the Colts' profile and improves the protection for Peyton Manning.

23. Philadelphia: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado. Smith has character issues but he also has the size to match up against Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Hakeem Nicks.


24. New Orleans: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple. The Saints solidified the inside by signing Shaun Rogers and can do the same at defensive end with Wilkerson.

25. Seattle: Andy Dalton, QB, TCU. Jake Locker doesn't really mesh with the Seahawks' West Coast offense, so they'll go with Dalton, whose quick release makes him the better choice.

26. Ravens: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State. His strength, power and versatility fit the mold of the Ravens' defense. The son of the late Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, he hurt his stock with an average senior season (3.5 sacks). At 6 feet 5, 280 pounds, Heyward is projected to play defensive end in a 3-4 defense and can be the eventual replacement for Cory Redding, who is entering the final year of his contract with the Ravens.

27. Atlanta: Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona. The Falcons need to find an eventual replacement for John Abraham, and Reed's relentless motor should catch the eye of coach Mike Smith.

28. New England: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama. The Patriots haven't drafted a running back since 2007, but Ingram's value will be too hard to pass up.

29. Chicago: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin. The way Jay Cutler has gotten beat up, the Bears need someone with the size and experience of Carimi.


30. N.Y. Jets: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor. Kris Jenkins is too injury-prone, and Rex Ryan places a high value on nose tackle in his defense.

31. Pittsburgh: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas. The Steelers want to improve their offensive line, but Williams' ability to play corner and safety addresses two areas of need.

32. Green Bay: Christian Ballard, DL, Iowa. With some questions along the defensive front, the Packers won't be able to resist the physical skills of Ballard.