ESPN NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper has turned in his final 2011 NFL mock draft of the year, taking a stand with just 24 hours to go until the first round begins. Kiper is a rare beast, releasing only a few mock drafts, but doing meticulous work throughout the year to formulate his opinion. And with his final mock draft, he made firm projections with the draft looming after gathering all the relevant information from his sources.
Kiper deviated from his original projections in his final mock draft when it came to the Seattle Seahawks. With a run on quarterbacks and the Seahawks expressing a clear need at the position, he has Seattle selecting Andy Dalton. Jake Locker is gone and Kiper sees Dalton as a good scheme fit and a solid pick for Seattle. You can find Kiper’s final mock draft here, if you have ESPN Insider.
There is talk that Seattle would be happy to move off this pick, but if not, Dalton is a guy who makes a lot of sense. A darling of the draft process, Dalton has impressed with his accuracy, smarts, better-than-expected arm strength and the suspicion that he might be as ready or more than any other QB in the draft to step in and manage an NFL offense. Seattle might need a guy like that sooner than it’d like given the question mark at quarterback.
Of course, Kiper leaves open the possibility of a trade, as we’ve heard quite a bit leading up to the draft. But if the Seahawks are unable to move down, Dalton will get a good, hard look. Though Dalton has been rising fast ahead of the draft, scouts have expressed concerns about how his game will translate to the professional level. Yet, among the quarterbacks that may be around at No. 25, he may be the best-possible fit, in a schematic sense, for Pete Carroll and the Seahawks.
For more on the draft, stay with our 2011 NFL mock draft StoryStream. Be sure to head over to SB Nation’s 2011 NFL Draft hub for the latest news, including mock drafts, rumors and projections. Head over to Field Gulls, SB Nation’s Seahawks blog, for even more draft analysis.