Mel Kiper released his first 2011 NFL mock draft on Wednesday, pegging Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley as his No. 1. Of course, it wouldn’t be mock draft season if ESPN’s Todd McShay didn’t respond (note: insider article). Not surprisingly, McShay and Kiper disagree about every pick in the top five.
McShay has A.J. Green, and not Marcell Dareus, in his top five.. Kiper has Dareus as the No. 3 pick, while McShay has him outside the top five, instead inserting Green as the No. 4 pick, heading to the Cincinnati Bengals. Green may be the most talented player in the draft class, but teams also tend to shy away from wide receivers at the very top of the draft, as well.
McShay has Da’Quan Bowers as the No. 1 overall pick. The top-two picks are swapped in his draft, with Nick Fairley as the No. 2 pick. These two seems to be interchangeable at the moment, and either could end up hearing their name called first in April. It will be interesting to see whether Fairley or Bowers can distance themselves in workouts.
Kiper has Blaine Gabbert heading to Arizona with the fifth pick, McShay has him heading to Buffalo with the third pick. Either way, Gabbert is in line for a substantial payday. Both the Bills and Cardinals have a need at quarterback, and Gabbert appears to be distancing himself from the rest of the elite quarterbacks — Cam Newton, Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett — as the draft inches closer. Should he fall to Arizona, it looks like the Cardinals will snap him up, putting two young quarterback prospects with high upsides in the NFC West.
It’s clear who the top five or six prospects are in the 2011 NFL Draft. McShay and Kiper will continue to revise, re-rank and debate which draft is right and which player is the prize of the draft all the way up until April 28, when it all gets underway in New York. Stay tuned to our StoryStream for the latest updates as drafts continue to be mocked and players continue to be scrutinized.
Check out our own 2011 NFL mock draft at SB Nation for another point of view.