This mock draft is not a prediction of who each team will take, but who each should take. I looked at needs of each team and tried to give each team the best possible player to help in 2011.

2011 NFL Mock Draft

1        Carolina Panthers: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

With so much uncertainty with the quarterbacks in this draft class, the Panthers should roll with Jimmy Clausen for one more year and grab Dareus with the top overall pick. He’s the best all-around defensive lineman and could bolster a weak defensive front that gave up 123.8 yards per game on the ground and only recorded 31 sacks in 2010 as a team. Chances are the Panthers will find themselves in a similar draft position next year and will be have the opportunity to draft Stanford’s Andrew Luck.

2        Denver Broncos: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

With Champ Bailey nearing the end of his career, the Broncos should bring in the best player in the draft and allow him to study under one of the greatest defensivebacks in NFL history. In a league that loves to air-it-out, Peterson would improve a pass defense ranked 25th in the NFL in 2010.

3        Buffalo Bills: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

Ryan Fitzpatrick is not the answer to the Bills quarterback problems. The last true winner the Bills had at quarterback was Doug Flutie. Bringing in Gabbert, though risky, is a choice that the team has to make. They’ve been looking for a face of the franchise for far too long and can’t pass on the chance to grab a Gabbert at number three. The big plus in taking a risk at quarterback this year as to drafts in the past is that when the labor issue is resolved there will be a rookie wage scale in place that will minimize the total downside of taking a developmental player high in the draft.

4        Cincinnati Bengals: AJ Green, WR, Georgia

For a receiving corps that has had many big names in the past, the production the Bengals have gotten is minimal. Green would be a great young talent to pair with an aging Chad Johnson. A weapon like Green could also be enough to lure Carson Palmer back to the Bengals.

5        Arizona Cardinals: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M

The Cardinals were 30th in the league in rushing yards against last year and 18th in sacks. A versatile linebacker like Miller would add a new dimension to a Cardinals defense that lacks the ability to disrupt opposing offenses. Miller is a beast. With his size, speed, nose for the ball, the Cardinals D would get a huge upgrade with him on the field.

6        Cleveland Browns: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

Cleveland needs major upgrades on defense, ranking 25th, 27th, and 18th in sacks, rush defense, and pass defense respectively. Bowers would give the Browns a force on the defensive line that would require much attention from opposing offenses. Adding Bowers would be a step forward in renovating the Browns’ porous defense.

7        San Francisco 49ers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

Cam Newton has the greatest upside of any player in the draft, but with that upside comes many questions about his skills as a passing quarterback. However, the 49ers now have Jim Harbaugh as their head coach. Harbaugh, a former NFL quarterback that has developed Stanford’s Andrew Luck, has the experience as a player and a coach to develop Newton into an all-pro quarterback.

8        Tennessee Titans: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

The Titans need a lot of help on the defensive side of the ball, ranking 26th in total defense. Nick Fairley would bring this much needed help to the Titans front seven. He was a force all year for Auburn and his familiarity with Tennessee’s defensive line coach Tracy Rocker would make him an ideal choice to integrate into a Titans defense that is still looking for a replacement for Albert Haynesworth.

9        Dallas Cowboys: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina

This is definitely a defensive draft and the Cowboys will be upgrading their unit as well. Quinn has a lot of upside and on a front that already includes DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff he’ll be given the space and opportunity to excel from day one.

10      Washington Redskins: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

With both top quarterbacks gone and a plethora of running backs on the roster, the Redskins should grab one of the best offensive playmakers in the draft. Lining Julio Jones up across from Santana Moss, with Chris Cooley in the middle, would give whoever is under center for the Redskins next year three viable options to throw to.

11      Houston Texans: Prince Amukamura, CB, Nebraska

Last year Houston was torn apart through the air, ranking last in pass yards against. Playing against Peyton Manning twice a year doesn’t help, but they also got Tennessee and Jacksonville twice and neither of them are sporting great quarterbacks. The Texans could go with pass rush help here, but when they only had 13 interceptions as a team in 2010, defensive back is the number one priority and Prince is the best available.

12      Minnesota Vikings: Tyron Smith, OT, USC

The Vikings need a quarterback desperately now that Favre is done, but taking any one at this spot wouldn’t give the team the best bang for its buck. However, drafting someone who can protect that quarterback is a good move. The Vikings were 15th in sacks allowed last year and should be looking to upgrade the line in order to give, whichever young quarterback is back there, time to make good decisions with the football. Adrian Peterson probably won’t complain about having another young big man upfront to block for him either.

13      Detroit Lions: Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal

The next statement might surprise you, but the Detroit Lions will be the surprise team of 2011. The Lions have assembled a young and improving team over the past few seasons. The addition of Ndomakong Suh last year bolstered the Lions front seven and by adding Jordan to that mix, the Lions will have too many forces on the defensive line for teams to account for with double teams, leaving someone with a one-on-one matchup. Whether Jordan puts up huge numbers as a rookie or not, his added presence will upgrade this defensive to another level.

14      St. Louis Rams: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri

The Rams could really use a go to target for Sam Bradford and may look to trade up to get Julio Jones, but as the order is currently constructed no such player is available. On the other side of the ball the Rams were lousy. The Rams ranked 26th in total defense and points allowed last season. Aldon Smith would give the Rams a pass rush that the team desperately needs and putting pressure on the quarterback helps the entire defense.

15      Miami Dolphins: Mike Pouncey, OG, Flordia

My first thought here for the Dolphins would be to draft Mark Ingram. The team may be losing Ronnie Brown in Free Agency and they don’t have a solid number two back. However, the Dolphins problems on offense come down to weak line play and Pouncey would have an immediate impact for the team. As of now, the right side of the Dolphins’ front line consists of John Jerry and Lydon Murtha. Pouncey is a definite upgrade.

16      Jacksonville Jaguars: JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin

The Jaguars have assembled a team of good players with a few stars and that’s why they’re always a good team, but never in contention to make a run at the Super Bowl. With the 16th pick they have the opportunity to take a future defensive star in order to improve their 28th ranked defense that gave up just over 26 points per game last year. Watt has all the tools to be a stud in this league for years to come. Put him on a team like the Jets, Patriots, or Steelers that could maximize his talents and he’d be a nightmare from day one.

17      New England Patriots: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

The Patriots offensive line is in a state of flux. With Stephen Neal retiring, Matt Light unsigned, and Logan Mankins wanting out, the team must address the o-line with their first pick. Now the Patriots might move this pick, but without a CBA in place the trade would only be for picks and they already have a ton of those. If the Pats hold here they should take Carimi. He could come right in and fill Matt Light’s hole at left tackle or move to the right side. Carimi was a force for Wisconsin in the Big 12 and has already played against the like of Suh in college. The kid is ready for the NFL.

18      San Diego Chargers: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple

The Chargers were a major disappointment in 2010. It’s hard to figure out why looking at their numbers, but something was missing from the team. San Diego had the best defense in football and one of the most potent offenses. The offense will continue to improve with the growth of Ryan Mathews, so the Chargers should look to maintain their number one defense. Despite his 32 tackles and 5.5 sacks, Antonio Garay is not a long-term solution at defensive tackle.

19      New York Giants: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

Overall the Giants don’t have many issues. The team was the victim of bad luck. That being said, the Giants could use to add depth to their offensive line. The team’s line is solid, but injuries are always on the horizon and Kareem McKenzie is entering his eleventh year in the league. Solder, coming in at 6-8, 319 lbs, is decently quick and could help solidify the line depth of the Giants as a rookie and develop into a starting tackle in the near future.

20      Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

The Buccaneers are a team on the rise, but have a very weak run defense. Liuget could prove to be a major run stuffer for the Bucs up front.

21      Kansas City Chiefs: Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor

The Chiefs have developed a strong front seven but are missing one piece that would create one of the more formidable young fronts in football, a nose tackle. New England West doesn’t have the run stopper and space taker that the team needs. At 6-3, 337, Taylor fits the role. His size and strength would create problems for run oriented division rivals like the Broncos and Raiders that would force backs east and west.

22      Indianapolis Colts: Andy Dalton, QB, TCU

Peyton Manning is 35 and still has more good years in him, but at some point his skills will diminish and he will retire. For a team that is good a developing talent, the Colts can take a risk here and draft Dalton in the first round and left him study under Peyton for the foreseeable future, until he is ready to take the reins. Dalton is a smart and mature kid, who would embrace his role as the Peyton’s understudy. We’ve seen this work with Rodgers in Green Bay. Now only imagine if Peyton helps the kid, unlike Favre

23      Philadelphia Eagles: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

With the emergence of Michael Vick, the Eagles offense has become explosive. Vick’s presence has opened the door for LeSean McCoy to exploit the running lanes that Vick’s versatility forces defenses to give him. However, the Eagles defense isn’t quite as good, ranking 15th in pass and rush defense. Being solid in run support and the pass rush, he could balance out a defensive line that has Trent Cole on one end.

24      New Orleans Saints: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

The Saints have one major weakness: rush defense. One of the better ruff stopping defensive linemen in the draft is Cameron Heyward. When Heyward is on he is a beast, but keeping that motor running for a full game may be a challenge. The Saints could use him inside and out, working him against the right matchup.

25      Seattle Seahawks: Jake Locker, QB, Washington

Matt Hasselbeck won’t be here forever and the Seahawks have struggled finding his successor. Locker has some question marks, but he’s a hometown kid that could give the 12th Man an extra decibel or two. He’s not a polished quarterback, but given a year or two behind a true professional like Hasselbeck and Locker could be groomed into a quality starter.

26      Baltimore Ravens: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami

Though the Ravens’ D was good in 2010, their pass defense ranked 21st in the league. They have the pieces in place to improve upon the amount of pressure they get on the quarterback, but they’re lacking the corner support that they benefitted from back in the early 2000s with Chris McAlister. Brandon Harris is a very instinctive player that is known to be coachable. He’s not the best tackler, but doesn’t shy away from supporting the run.

27      Atlanta Falcons: Akeem Ayers, DE/OLB, UCLA

In 2010, John Abraham recorded 13 of the Falcons’ 31 sacks. No other player recorded more than four. The Falcons need diversity in the pass rush and Ayers gives them that. Having Abraham and Ayers at defensive end would be a nightmare for offensive coordinators.

28      New England Patriots: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

The Pats running attack was much better than expected last season. The contributions of Green-Ellis and Woodhead probably surprised everyone other than Bill Belichick. However, the Pats need to take pressure off of Tom Brady and his oft-injured feet. The best way to do this is to have a running back that commands respect, which is something they haven’t had since Corey Dillon. Despite his health concerns, Mark Ingram is the best back in the draft and would give them an offensive attack that would be downright scary.

29      Chicago Bears: Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina

Tommie Harris? Done. Anthony Adams? Could do better. The Bears have a great defense without solid defensive tackles. In his three seasons at UNC, Austin was a force. There are concerns that he may have lost a step in the year he missed due to NCAA violations, but at 29 he’s worth the risk.

30      New York Jets: Aaron Williams, CB/S, Texas

The Jets are in the land of unknowns this off-season. Eleven starters, including Antonio Cromarite, Brodney Poole, and Eric Smith, are free agents. Bringing all of them back will be difficult with a salary cap in place for next year. Right now the Jets have to assume that at least two of them won’t be back, leaving only Darrelle Revis, Jim Leonhard, and Kyle Wilson as definates in the secondary. That won’t be enough to stop the Patriots next year. Aaron Williams would be the best fit due to his versatility to play both corner and safety. He’s big enough to cover the Pats’ tight ends and fast enough to play on the outside in man coverage.

31      Pittsburgh Steelers: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

The Steelers don’t need much. They were the best team in the AFC despite not having their star quarterback for the first four games of the season. Where the Steelers should focus is the offensive line, especially at Flozell Adams’s eventual replacement. Castonzo is a winner. The kid just wants to play. According to CBS Sports, he even “willingly took snaps at guard” while at the Senior Bowl to answer people’s questions about his size.

32      Green Bay Packers: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia

The Packers are the champs, but they’re far from perfect. They could use a new outside linebacker to replace Frank Zombo across from Clay Matthews. Though Matthews is the unquestioned pass rusher on the team, Houston’s ability to get to the quarterback would have to make o-coordinators hesitate before they shift line protection to Matthews side on every play.

33      New England Patriots: Allen Bailey, DE, Miami

With basically their third pick in the first round, the Pats finally give their defense some help. With Ty Warren coming off injury, the Pats need another defensive end to through into the mix. Bailey has the tools to be a stud for the Patriots, having the ability to stop the run push through gaps to get to the quarterback.