The latest SB Nation 2011 NFL Mock Draft is out, and there's nothing new with the top two selections. The Carolina Panthers are still taking Auburn Tigers defensive tackle Nate Fairley with the No. 1 overall pick and the Denver Broncos once again pick ex-North Carolina Tar Heels defensive end Robert Quinn with the No. 2 pick.
The Quinn selection still doesn't appear as the greatest pick. He would definitely complement Elvis Dumervil, who will return in 2011 recovered from a torn pectoral muscle. But can Quinn remain at end, or will he be a tweener? If not, wouldn't he then be in a role similar to Robert Ayers? Ayers was disappointing as a rookie and didn't make that jump to the next level this season (he did break a foot that kept him out of several games). Still, John Fox and the Broncos shouldn't give up on him yet.
LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson or defensive linemen Marcell Dareus (Alabama) and Da'Quan Bowers (Clemson) would be better alternatives. Whether Champ Bailey returns to Denver or leaves, Peterson would be a young cornerback to build the secondary around. Bowers and Dareus are both locks to stay on the line, while Quinn is not yet. As Brian Galliford has in his write-up, the Combine will tell us much about Quinn's future.
In this version of the NFL Draft, no quarterback goes in the top 10. Had Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck left for the draft, the Panthers would likely have taken him with the No. 1 pick without hesitation. His decision to stay in college has made the top pick a fluid one right now.
In previous SB Nation mock drafts, the San Francisco 49ers and the Tennessee Titans selected quarterbacks, but now both move toward defensive help. The Titans are in a precarious position at the moment as they look for a new head coach.
That led to the Minnesota Vikings being the first team looking for a quarterback. And that selection was the Missouri Tigers' Blaine Gabbert. Auburn's lasted until the 25th pick and the Seattle Seahawks. Wedged in between the two was Washington's Jake Locker, who was so-so during the weekend's Senior Bowl. Jacksonville took him with the 16th pick here.