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Metro’s 2011 NFL Mock Draft

Metro’s Peter Schrager has the scoop on who’s going where in tonight’s first round.

1. PANTHERS (2010 RECORD: 2-14)
Cam Newton, QB, Auburn — The Panthers are in desperate need of a playmaker after scoring just 16 touchdowns last season. Newton has plenty of character flaws and worked in a simplistic offense for just one year, but Carolina realizes Jimmy Clausen is not the answer.

2. BRONCOS (4-12)
Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU — Best defensive player available for a team that needs defense, defense and more defense. He’s not yet a lockdown corner, but he can become an instant game-changer on kick returns.

3. BILLS (4-12)
Marcell Dareus, DE/DT, Alabama — The Bills gave up a league-worst 169 rushing yards per game in 2010. At 6-foot-3, 319 pounds, Dareus is a beast. He’ll help the Bills for years to come ... if he doesn’t go to Denver.

4. BENGALS (4-12)
Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri — Carson Palmer wants out? Hello, Mr. Gabbert. The kid has everything you want in an NFL QB: size, arm strength and smarts. But is he simply a spread offense product?

5. CARDINALS (5-11)
Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M — The top linebacker to enter the league in the past five years joins a team in dire need of one. With a quick burst off the line, scouts have compared him to the late, great Derrick Thomas -- we think he may be better.

6. BROWNS (5-11)
A.J. Green, WR, Georgia — The 6-4 physical freak is the playmaker Colt McCoy needs to flourish out in Cleveland. Team those two up, and one’s ending up on the “Madden 15” cover.

7. 49ers (6-10)
Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, UNC —Suspended for the entire 2010 season, Quinn is one of the true wild cards of the 2011 draft. Are versatility and sheer athletic talent enough to carry him in the NFL?

8. TITANS (6-10)
Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn — Tracy Rocker, Fairley’s defensive coach at Auburn, is now coaching the defensive line in Tennessee. He clearly has the goods; mocks once had him at No. 1 overall.

9. COWBOYS (6-10)
Tyron Smith, OT, USC — Only 20 years of age, Smith will be the first offensive tackle drafted in the first round by Dallas since 1981. He has a lot to prove after being relegated to right tackle for the Trojans.

10. REDSKINS (6-10)
Julio Jones, WR, Alabama — A physical, 6-foot-2 receiver, Jones has NFC East written all over him. He’ll be an excellent consolation prize for a team that wanted to land A.J. Green.

11. TEXANS (6-10)
Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri — As a redshirt freshman in 2009, Smith recorded 11.5 sacks at Mizzou. All signs point to him being a fit in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defensive scheme.

12. VIKINGS (6-10)
Jake Locker, QB, Washington — Often criticized for accuracy issues, Locker is a four-year starter with tremendous physical attributes. He could land as high as the top 10 picks.

13. LIONS (6-10)
Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado — Rapidly rising up draft boards, Smith going in the top 15 could be the Day 1 surprise that leaves fans scratching their heads. It shouldn’t: He’s got the goods.

14. RAMS (7-9)
Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska —Amukamara didn’t rack up the interceptions in 2010, but still won the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award. He’s big (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) and quick.

15. DOLPHINS (7-9)
Mike Pouncey, OG/C, Florida — An elite interior lineman and the identical twin brother of 2009 Steelers first-round pick Maurkice Pouncey, Mike shapes up as a solid pro.

16. JAGUARS (8-8)
Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson — College football’s sack leader in 2010, Bowers could slip all the way to 16th because of lingering concerns about his knee. He’d fit perfectly in a 4-3 setup.

17. PATRIOTS (14-2)
Cam Jordan, DE, California —Versatile down lineman who could be a star in coach Bill
Belichick’s ever-changing defensive scheme. And he’s got the bloodlines — son of former Pro Bowl TE Steve Jordan.

J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin — Converted TE, he’s considered top, run-stuffing 3-4 DE in this year’s draft. Downside? Inexperience. Still adjusting to being a full-time defensive starter.

19. GIANTS (10-6)
Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College — Chicago native started 53 games at Boston College and can play on either side of the Giants’ line immediately. Needs to bulk up a bit.

20. BUCS (10-6)
Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue — Big Ten’s sack leader — with 12.5 — in 2010. Kerrigan's got a nonstop motor and can get to the quarterback. Has been compared to Aaron Kampman.

21. CHIEFS (10-6)
Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin — Four-year starter at Wisconsin, Carimi provides some much-needed youth on Todd Haley’s aging offensive line. Considered a mauler — and that’s a compliment.

22. COLTS (10-6)
Nate Solder, OT, Colorado — A 6-foot-8 converted tight end, Solder can watch Peyton Manning’s blind side in the final phase of his career. Has the potential to be a very dominant NFL tackle.

23. EAGLES (10-6)
Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois — Philly needs to rebuild its defensive line and Liuget is a dream fit in the Eagles’ penetrating 4-3 front. Plus, he’s a huge steal at 23rd overall.

24. SAINTS (11-5)
Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama — The 2009 Heisman winner gives Sean Payton a workhorse in the backfield. He won’t catch the passes that Reggie Bush can, but he’ll break the tackles that Bush can’t.

25. SEAHAWKS (7-9)
Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas -- The strong-armed 6-foot-7 gunslinger ends up with Pete Carroll in the Pacific Northwest. He will never have to address his off-field issues if can zip balls on deep outs with consistency on the next level.

26. RAVENS (12-4)
Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia -- A sleeper pick at cornerback, Dowling's got first-round talent and fulfills a major need for Baltimore. Sure the Ravens have Ed Reed, but they've been searching for a corner that can hold his own in man-to-man coverage.

27. FALCONS (13-3)
Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa -- A nice pickup this late in the first round, Clayborn immediately upgrades Atlanta's defensive line.

28. PATRIOTS (14-2)
Danny Watkins, Baylor, OG/OT -- A 26-year-old Canadian former fire fighter, Watkins is arguably the most versatile offensive lineman in this year's draft.

29. BEARS (11-5)
Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State -- An All-SEC performer that can play either guard or tackle, Sherrod will help keep Jay Cutler upright and tear-free in the coming years.

30. JETS (11-5)
Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple -- This could signal the end of the Shaun Ellis era. Wilkerson can fit into any scheme.

31. STEELERS (12-4)
Brandon Harris, CB, Miami -- An electric cornerback out of the U, Harris finds his way into the first round because of his pure athleticism.

32. PACKERS (10-6)
Marvin Austin, DT/DE, North Carolina -- The former top rated high school defensive lineman missed all of 2010 with the Tar Hell because of suspension. Playing as a down lineman in Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme will improve his explosiveness and discipline.

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